GT Voice: Lithuania must pay price for openly playing ‘Taiwan card’
Published: Aug 22, 2021 09:42 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

Lithuania must pay the price for openly provoking the one-China principle and undermining China's sovereignty.

Lithuania recently allowed Taiwan island's separatist authorities to open a "representative office" under the name of "Taiwan." In response, China decided to recall its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded the Lithuanian government to recall its ambassador to China.

No one should underestimate China's firm resolve and strong will to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

It would be delusional for the Lithuanian government to think it can provoke China's core interests without paying any price. That is not a problem that can be solved by the EU or the US. Lithuania should drop any illusions about the situation. The best course of action is for the Lithuanian government to either correct its wrong decision immediately or continue down its current path and make it clear to its people what the price will be.

In fact, there has already been speculation that economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will be the first to bear the brunt of Lithuanian sabotage. 

Last week, a report from the Baltic News Services said that Chinese state-owned train operator China Railway Container Transport Co, a subsidiary of China Railway Group, informed clients that it would suspend direct freight trains to Lithuania. While the report was quickly denied by China Railway Group, there are still market speculations and concerns over whether China will halt the direct cargo trains to Lithuania in the coming future, which could be seen as an important indicator as to whether China will impose economic penalties on Lithuania.

With its transport sector generating about 14 percent of its GDP, Lithuania has sought to establish itself as a regional transport hub and international logistics center. Such a plan would not have been possible without the support of the China-EU rail freight.

Given recent skyrocketing shipping costs, lots of companies started to look into alternative ways to transport their goods by rail. This was supposed to be a great opportunity for Lithuania to build itself as a transport hub, but the Baltic country clearly missed the opportunity as its recent sabotage over bilateral relations has seriously affected business confidence and trust between two countries.

Moreover, rail freight may not be the only aspect of the China-Lithuania relationship which suffers. 

The Lithuanian economy relies heavily on agriculture and its agricultural product exports account for nearly one-third of its export trade with China. 

Over the years, Lithuania's agricultural exports have been making inroads in the Chinese market. In March, Chinese customs just approved 20 Lithuanian milk companies for registration in China. Yet, Lithuania's provocation against China over the Taiwan question will add uncertainty to the future prospects for its farmers who have been spending years to cultivate the Chinese market.

What's worse, Lithuanian farmers and local businesses now need to be prepared for counter-flows from China as a result of decisions made by their government. 

Lithuania also imports many of the raw materials and components from China for its industrial production. The consequences of abandoning a reliable and cost-efficient source of supplies may lead to the inflation of domestic production costs.

We also suggest Chinese trade authorities carefully examine China's imports and exports with Lithuania and make plans to sever ties with the country. Lithuania should not hold any delusion that China is reluctant to take decisive actions, even against highly sought after products and commodities. China will never back down when it comes to its core interests.

If some within the Lithuanian government think siding with the US by persistently provoking China over the Taiwan question won't have any consequences, the real-world results of their actions may signal otherwise.