China sanctions Lithuanian deputy minister over Taiwan visit, first foreign official punished since Pelosi
Published: Aug 12, 2022 11:14 PM
A citizen walks on the street in Siauliai, Lithuania, Nov 6, 2021. Photo:Xinhua

A citizen walks on the street in Siauliai, Lithuania, Nov 6, 2021. Photo:Xinhua

China's Foreign Ministry on Friday announced plans to sanction Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė, who visited the Taiwan region this week, which trampled on the one-China principle, seriously interfered in China's internal affairs, and undermined China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vaiciukevičiūtė is the first foreign official sanctioned over provocative Taiwan visit since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was sanctioned last week.

Chinese analysts said China has once again showed the world that it won't step back an inch on provocations that trample on the one-China principle by sanctioning the Lithuanian official, and Lithuania may face more consequences, including the severing of diplomatic ties, if it continued on the wrong path. 

China's sanctions against the Lithuanian official also served as a strong warning to other countries that may follow suit, analysts warned.

"In response to the egregious and provocative act of Vaiciukevičiūtė, China decided to adopt sanctions on Vaiciukevičiūtė, to suspend all forms of exchange with the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Lithuania, and to suspend exchanges and cooperation with Lithuania in the field of international road transport," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Although China has not specified its sanctions against Vaiciukevičiūtė, analysts said based on previous Chinese sanctions against European officials, it's likely that she and her relatives may be banned from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, and any ties of interest with China linked to her business activities and those of her immediate family members will be severed. 

In 2021, Lithuanian lawmaker Dovile Sakaliene was among 10 EU individuals and four entities that were put on China's sanctions list for spreading rumors and lies about China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 

The individuals concerned and their families are prohibited from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, and the companies and institutions associated with them are restricted from doing business with China, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in March 2021. 

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that China's sanctions came very shortly after Vaiciukevičiūtė's Taiwan visit, demonstrating China's firm attitude. 

Vaiciukevičiūtė led a delegation to Taiwan on August 7 for a five-day visit. It was the third in a series of deputy-ministerial visits to the island by the Baltic state, after visits by Lithuania's Vice Minister of Economy and Innovation Jovita Neliupšienė and Vice Minister of Agriculture Egidijus Giedraitis in June.

The sanctions are very precise, Cui said, noting that the cooperation suspension in international road transport may not just be at the bilateral level, but may also include the multilateral level. 

Analysts said that the detailed sanctions against Vaiciukevičiūtė will make her feel the pain of being sanctioned. 

China's sanctions came after Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said at Thursday's media briefing that "China will act resolutely in response to the egregious provocation of certain individuals in Lithuania to challenge the one-China principle," and "we urge certain people in Lithuania to stop being the pawn of the 'Taiwan independence' and anti-China forces and stop moving even further down the wrong path."

Wang said Lithuania undertook the obligation not to establish official relations or engage in official contacts with Taiwan, but it has time and again reneged on its commitment and apparently acted in bad faith.