Domestic power struggle, reliance on US to cost Lithuania more over Taiwan question: expert
Published: Jan 06, 2022 10:44 PM
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda File Photo: VCG

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda File Photo: VCG

An internal split and the lip service of the US and the Taiwan island will only lead Lithuania to a dead end if the Baltic nation continues to serve as a pawn for the US over the Taiwan question, as China would certainly fight back and stay strong to safeguard its one-China principle, Chinese experts warned.

After publicly admitting that the country made a mistake when it allowed the island of Taiwan to open a representative office in Vilnius under the name "Taiwan," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Twitter on Thursday that "I have always supported facilitation of economic ties & establishing non-diplomatic trade offices in Lithuania and in Taipei."

Lithuania is a sovereign democratic country that respects international commitments, and it has a right to develop ties with other countries and regions worldwide, read the post.

In response to Nauseda's recent speeches, Chinese analysts warned that these should not be taken as a signal that Lithuania will immediately reverse its current anti-China policy as an internal power struggle, the US' support as well as influence from the EU will all continue to hang over the country.

Nauseda's speeches have revealed a deep split between him and Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, which has continued to heat up since the cabinet, led by Simonyte, assumed office in December 2020, media reported.

Lithuania's diplomatic crisis with China began on November 18, 2021, as Simonyte promoted the decision to allow the Taiwan island to set up a "representative office" in Lithuania in the name of Taiwan, which Nauseda claimed was not coordinated with him.

Allowing the "representative office" of the Taiwan island is nothing less than an opportunistic practice of the Lithuanian government, Sun Keqin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Thursday.

But the country mistakenly estimated its own and China's international status and strength, Sun said, noting that China will definitely fight back and safeguard the one-China principle if Lithuania continues to provoke it over the issue. 

To steady the Baltic partner, the Taiwan authorities said on Wednesday they would create a $200 million fund to invest in Lithuanian industries and boost bilateral trade as they try to fend off diplomatic pressure from the Chinese mainland.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to China's pressure on Lithuania in a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday and vowed to work with Berlin and others against such "intimidation."

"Lithuania should ask itself: Would trade with the US and Taiwan island make up for the loss of cooperation with China? Would the EU be willing to pay for its mistake, given its economic relationship with China?" Sun said.

In terms of geopolitics, it is disadvantageous for Lithuania - an EU and NATO member that is positioned at the forefront of dealing with Russian - to stand on opposite to China, pushing the latter closer to Russia and the Republic of Belarus, Sun noted.