China abides by WTO rules, but EU should keep a clear mind over Lithuanian farce
Published: Jan 27, 2022 09:41 PM
EU, Lithuania. Photo: Liu Xidan/Global Times

EU, Lithuania. Photo: Liu Xidan/Global Times

The EU has reportedly filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China's so-called "economic coercion" against Lithuania, marking the latest development of the West attempting to distort a political maneuver by Vilnius violating the one-China principle into an economic issue targeting China.

According to a Financial Times report on Thursday, the European Commission groundlessly accused China as "blocking imports from Lithuania" and the EU "sees no other way forward than to request WTO dispute-settlement consultations with China" after failed efforts to "resolve the issue bilaterally."

It indeed is a bilateral issue which, in the first place, caused by Lithuania recklessly undermining China's core interests by allowing the establishment of a so-called "Taiwanese Representative Office" in Vilnius. So far, the Lithuanian government has not redressed the wrong and vicious act; instead, it has been pretending to be a victim and trying to drag the EU bloc into its dangerous geopolitical game.

Filing a case at WTO will not be a threat to China as the country always acts in a way that conforms to WTO rules. However, it is essentially not an economic or trading issue which has been fabricated and played up by Vilnius. 

The accusations of China moving Lithuania from Chinese customs' clearance systems or pressuring multinational corporations not to use parts made in Lithuania are not true; and it is Washington, who is pulling strings behind Vilnius, which has been wielding its economic and political coercion sticks worldwide to attack others, including certain European countries.

Facing Lithuania's flagrant and dangerous political show, the EU should keep a clear mind and avoid being dragged into a political mine field, given China-EU relations are too crucial for the two sides and the world.

Economically speaking, both China and the EU are leading economies in the world, with any trading or investment tie linking to massive amounts of firms and ordinary consumers from both sides.

In 2020, China became the largest trading partner of the EU, and both sides recorded active investments, with China seeing direct investment worth of $5.7 billion from the EU, and the EU seeing direct investment worth of $4.7 billion from China. Two-way investment had exceeded $200 billion, Xinhua News Agency reported in May 2021.

Some European politicians and business groups have expressed concerns of placing mutually beneficial China-EU economic relations at risk, and it is within expectation if any company takes precautionary measures to avoid any risks. Vilnius should be the one to blame if any Lithuanian businesses bear losses due to the frosty relations.

China is not the one causing the tensions with Lithuania, instead, it has been stepping up efforts to enhance cooperation with central and eastern European countries over recent years. The EU may be reluctant to be involved in the tussle, but it is not an unsolvable issue as long as the EU maintains a sensible approach and is not held hostage by mean-minded politicians.

China's stance has always been clear and there's no room for bargaining over the Taiwan question. The real responsibility of the EU is to guide Lithuania back into the right track of adhering to the one-China principle, and respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The author is an editor with the Global