Chinese officials, experts warn Lithuania against provocation, defend China-CEEC ties
Published: Jul 21, 2021 08:23 PM
The China Post CR Express 1st block train is unloading in Vilnius, Lithuania, April 14, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

The "China Post" CR Express 1st block train is unloading in Vilnius, Lithuania, April 14, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese officials and experts on Wednesday warned Lithuania, the small Baltic country, against crossing China's red line regarding the island of Taiwan and defended growing ties between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs).

The island of Taiwan said on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with Lithuania to open a "representative office" in the Lithuanian capital, in a serious provocation against the Chinese mainland. Lithuania had also earlier withdrawn from the cooperation mechanism between China and the CEECs.

At a forum on China-CEEC cooperation in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese officials and experts said that while withdrawing from the China-CEEC mechanism was Lithuania's decision to make, the move regarding the island of Taiwan was a serious violation of the one-China principle and could result in serious consequences for the tiny Baltic nation.

"We will have to take serious measures next, depending on how Lithuania behaves next," Liu Zuokui, a research fellow on European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times at the forum at the CASS.

Other experts also said that tougher sanctions would be expected in response to the Lithuanian government's latest move regarding the island of Taiwan, which is a dangerous move that involved "stepping on China's red line." 

That is completely different from the country's move to quit the China-CEEC cooperation platform, which is an open platform and Lithuania is free to choose, while the Taiwan question is totally different in nature, experts said.

Chinese officials and experts also noted that the US intensifying pressure on other countries to join its hostile actions against China might have played a role in Lithuania's mistakes.

The US government continues to suppress China in various fields and tries to block cooperation and ties between China and Central and Eastern Europe, which has led to a wobble in the stance of some countries toward China, Lithuania is an example, said Wang Linggui, vice president of the CASS. 

Certain countries are taking actions that undermine cooperation and relations with China, and such actions by a very few countries were clearly encouraged by the US and some other Western countries, Huo Yuzhen, special representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for China-CEEC Cooperation, said at the forum on Wednesday.

However, the actions of individual countries will not affect fundamental issues regarding the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism, which remains solid, experts said.

From 2012 to 2020, bilateral trade between China and the CEEC grew at an average annual rate of 8 percent, more than twice the rate of China's trade with the EU, data showed.

Investment in new projects, such as the photovoltaic sector and car manufacturing, also continued, and some Chinese new-energy vehicle companies are planning to increase their presence in the region, said Suo Peng, deputy director general of the Department of European Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce, on Wednesday.

"We should not lose confidence in cooperation with CEE countries because of some external disturbances and other factors," said Suo.

However, Lithuania is set to miss business opportunities from Chinese companies due to its hostility toward China, experts said.

Enterprises always hope to have a good environment in countries where they invest, but if they are not welcome at the political level, enterprises will certainly take that into consideration in the decision-making process, Yao Ling, director of the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation told the Global Times.