Lithuania floats trial balloon of political opportunism: Global Times editorial
Published: Jan 27, 2022 12:44 AM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Reuters quoted sources as saying on Wednesday that Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis recently proposed to President Gitanas Nauseda to modify "the Chinese version of the representation name to refer to 'Taiwanese people' rather than to Taiwan," in an attempt to "defuse a row with China." This is not the first time that Lithuania has released hints of changing the name of the "Taiwanese representative office" in Vilnius. The Financial Times recently reported a similar story. Although all sides have denied it with haste, the outside world is more and more inclined to believe that relevant discussions are unfolding in the Lithuanian government.

It is very likely that Lithuania deliberately floated a trial balloon, playing the literal trick of taking two steps forward, one step back, to test China's willingness to accept the new name, and at the same time to gain international sympathy: "Look, I'm going to change the name, but China is still picking on me." However, it must be pointed out that this is a political performance that offers the same old stuff with only a different label. Its essence is still to create "one China, one Taiwan" on the global arena. This inferior cover-up can't deceive anyone. Lithuania should drop its illusion that it could muddle through it. 

Obviously the situation has become increasingly unfavorable for Lithuanian authorities. It previously relied on Washington's endorsement to play a political scoundrel who blackmails a big power as a small country, and also tried to drag the EU into the case. Both Lithuania's population and GDP account for less than 1 percent of the EU, but it wanted to kidnap the interests of the entire EU. This is an almost insane geopolitical madness. Not only is there a huge wave of opposition in Lithuania, but people in other EU countries have expressed their dissatisfaction. The German business community has repeatedly warned Lithuania to stop manipulating the Taiwan question. So far, Lithuania has not benefited much, but has paid a heavy price for it, and it is feeling more and more pressure.

If Vilnius really wants to ease tensions with Beijing and stop its losses in time, it needs to take  sincere and practical actions, hedging its previous provocations with a clear change. We think it must do at least the following: First, Make the name, activities, nature and methods of the representative office named after "Taiwanese" return to the ones within the framework of Lithuania's commitments when it established diplomatic relations with China. Second, Vilnius should publicly apologize to China for its prior mistakes, declaring its ties with Taiwan as non-governmental. Third, Lithuania needs to reaffirm the one-China principle and guarantee that it will never challenge this political bottom line in a credible manner. Fourth, Vilnius has to take concrete actions to eliminate the malicious impact on the EU and the international community.

The matter of principle is non-negotiable. If the Lithuanian authorities do not completely correct its mistakes, no matter how many trial balloons it floats, it will only lead China-Lithuania relations to a worse situation.

The calculation of Washington and Vilnius, which attempts to induce other small countries to follow and spread "One China, one Taiwan" has failed. Instigated by the US, this country, which has nothing to do with cross-Straits affairs, has jumped into a giant whirlpool of its own doing. And the consequences it has endured are becoming a lesson for other countries. Lithuanian authorities should be aware that they intended to play an "exemplary" role in the international community, but in the end will only serve as a "typical case" for China to ramp up prestige for the international community.

Ironically, every time Lithuania is reportedly considering changing the name of the "Taiwanese Representative Office," the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority and the US Department of State are among the first ones to refute it. DPP authority is even more anxious, showing its guilt conscience and uneasiness, lest Lithuania changes its stance. In the future, they may continue to overtly and covertly fool Lithuania to be their pawn. However, no matter what tricks they play, China will never give in half an inch on issues of principle. We have never compromised in the face of a superpower like the US, how could it be possible for us to accept the political fraud of Lithuania, a "weathercock?"

The farce created by Lithuania authorities will finally prove to the international community that the one-China principle is a red line that cannot be crossed. Anyone, be it Vilnius, Taipei or Washington, cannot expect to dance on the line.