Punishing Lithuania like swatting a fly: Global Times editorial
Published: Nov 19, 2021 09:03 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

Taiwan island's so-called representative office in Lithuania opened on Thursday. Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen expressed her delight on social media. Prior to this, she called the representative office in Lithuania "a major diplomatic breakthrough." Western media noticed that the office will be operating under the title of "Taiwan," while representative offices in other countries use "Taipei." 

China's Foreign Ministry, in a statement Thursday night, strongly protested Lithuania's move that flagrantly violated the one-China principle and attempted to create a "one China, one Taiwan" landscape. Beijing recalled its ambassador to Lithuania in August.

The establishment of Taiwan's representative office in Lithuania is abominable in nature. But we believe the Chinese mainland should remain calm. We need to have an objective assessment of the situation in which our ability to control the overall cross-Straits situation is growing stronger, and correctly define the impact of the collusion between Taiwan and Lithuania, so that we can have a calm calculation of what reaction we should make and to what extent we should expand the struggle.

Lithuania is a small European country. Since its independence from the Soviet Union, it has maintained its deep-rooted strategic fear. It likes radical anti-Russia moves to show loyalty to the US and prove its values to the Western world. After US relations with China worsened, it kept finding fault with China to seek bargaining chips. Indeed, it attracted much Western attention by taking the lead to open a representative office under the title of "Taiwan."

Lithuania is just a clown that plays bravado and loyalty. China will definitely deal a heavy blow to it, but we don't have to focus too much on wresting with such a small role because that will be a favor to it. Lithuania dares to show off its teeth with the protection of the US and the EU, which reflects the loopholes in China-US ties and China-Europe ties that enable it to behave so badly. As to how to deal with Lithuania, we should care more about how to rival with major powers.

Over the years, the Chinese mainland has been making progress in the diplomatic field regarding Taiwan. Since Tsai became Taiwan leader, the number of countries that have "diplomatic" ties with Taiwan shrunk from 22 to 15. The "diplomatic" relations between Honduras and Taiwan may spell alarm if the opposition in Honduras takes office. In the 1990s, Macedonia established "official" ties with Taiwan. But due to the changing of leadership in the country, Taiwan was dropped. If the incumbent regime of Lithuania colludes with Taiwan authorities, this cannot be sustained, because the representative office may be expelled by the new government at any time.

It seems that the US and Europe will further play the "Taiwan card," because other cards can hardly hurt China. For instance, China has the final say in the situation regarding Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The final lever to solve the Taiwan question is also in the hands of the Chinese mainland - the growing comprehensive national strength and the fast-developing military. The Chinese mainland has a growing ability to solve the Taiwan question by force, while US and Western ability to retaliate through diplomatic and economic sanctions is losing credibility. The mainland has seized the right to show down and secured the chance of winning. This is the new fundamental definition of the Taiwan Straits situation. 

Lithuania has jumped to the forefront. It has made a specific provocation and trouble, which may lead to a chain reaction. But this won't strategically change the situation in the Taiwan Straits. The challenge it brings aims to disturb our mood and attention and increase the cost for us to cope with the question internationally. 

Beijing can calmly decide how to punish Lithuania based on the need to compete with the US and the need to deal with relations with Europe. It should make Lithuania feel the pain and display our dignity as a major power. It should not jeopardize our own interests or affect our broader strategy. 

It is like we are swatting a fly - we just need to be careful not to stain our hands or walls and not break the vase on the table.