Janez Jansa risks misleading Slovenia to a ‘political mine field’ over Taiwan question
Published: Jan 19, 2022 07:37 PM
Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa holds a press conference after an European Union Summit at the European Council building in Brussels, early on December 17, 2021.

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa holds a press conference after an European Union Summit at the European Council building in Brussels, early on December 17, 2021. Geert VANDEN WIJNGAAERT / POOL / AFP

 Slovenia has become another European country risking stepping into a "political mine field" over the Taiwan question.

Slovenia and the island of Taiwan are "working on establishing … Well, on exchanging representatives." Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on Monday in an interview with Indian broadcaster Doordarshan. Referring to the island as a "democratic country," Jansa also said he would support the "sovereign decision" of residents in Taiwan should they "want to live independently."

China and Slovenia have generally maintained good relations in recent years. The recent change of Slovenia's attitude toward China is partly a result of increasing pressure the US has piled on Central and Eastern European countries. Like Lithuania, Slovenia is too dependent on the US for security protection as it lies at the forefront of the US' geopolitical confrontation with Russia. Washington has already regarded China as a top rival, and it must have exerted considerable pressure on them, in a bid to force them to stand on the side of the US against China.

There is no problem in establishing an exchange of representatives. The problem is what to name it. Among all countries which established representative offices with the island of Taiwan, only Lithuania agreed to set up one with the name "Taiwanese," which blatantly violated the one-China principle, while other countries' representative offices use the name "Taipei."

"But according to Jansa that 'this would not be the level of embassies. It would be the same level [that] many of the EU member countries [have with Taiwan island],' Slovenia's representatives with Taiwan will likely be established with the name of 'Taipei," Sun Keqin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

Lithuania's egregious act over Taiwan island undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs. Beijing takes countermeasures to urge Vilnius to immediately correct its mistake. 

Against such background, Slovenia will not rashly allow to establish a representative office with the name of "Taiwan," or "Taiwanese." 

Slovenia had no representative office in Taiwan island before, and affairs related to Slovenia have merely been managed by the representative office in Austria. It can be concluded that Taiwan island is of little significance to Slovenia. Jansa's remarks on Taiwan are more like diplomatic rhetoric showing loyalty to Washington, and can be used to ask for more financial benefits from Taiwan island. 

Even though Slovenia is unlikely to follow Lithuania's suit over Taiwan soon, Jansa's remarks on Taiwan deserve China's vigilance. "Whether the negative demonstration effect will expand depends on the consequences that Lithuania will face. In addition to Jansa, other politicians and forces who intend to play the card of Taiwan are watching where China-Lithuania relations will head. They are expected to decide whether to follow Lithuania or Slovenia based on what will happen to Vilnius," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times. "China needs to concentrate on dealing with Lithuania right now, countering Lithuania's malicious intent and practices by diplomacy and other means, and drawing the 'red line' on Taiwan question more clearly."

"The goal of China's countermeasures against Lithuania is that there must be no second Lithuania, making Lithuania an " isolated case" rather than a "precedent." In such context, political speculation moves such as those from Jansa will be curbed as a result," Cui emphasized.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn