Lithuania vs. China: will the West take a stance?
Lithuania and China are at loggerheads after the Baltic state gave Taiwan permission to set up a diplomatic mission called the Taiwanese Representative Office in its capital in August. China, which rejects any official use of the name "Taiwan" and considers the island part of its own territory, has reacted by imposing economic sanctions and withdrawing its ambassador. Who will stand by Lithuania?
Support urgently needed
Vilnius needs strong partners now, Lietuvos rytas explains:
“Lithuania can fend off China's blows only if the US and the EU clearly back Lithuania. To be sure, the US president's security adviser and other officials have already said that Washington supports Vilnius in its dispute with Beijing. But pressure is also needed behind the scenes. ... The EU also has important means of exerting pressure here because the investment agreement between the EU and China, which keeps stalling (for which the US is not entirely blameless), is particularly important for Beijing. Part of our business community fears losses and criticises Lithuania's foreign policy, which always aims to be at the forefront of Western criticism of authoritarian regimes, as unwise. To stop this growing discontent our diplomats should enlist support from our Western partners.”
Passivity vis-à-vis China bad for Estonia
Postimees columnist Iverson Ng calls on the Estonian government to also finally take a stance:
“Estonian foreign policy's indifference vis-à-vis China is worrying: the lack of solidarity with Lithuania, which has fallen victim to Chinese diplomatic aggression, gives China the green light to use the same measures against Estonia in the future. Worse still, Estonian civil society and the business community will become more vulnerable to China's soft power if the Estonian government continues to look on passively as Beijing seeks to divide the Baltic states and the rest of the EU.”
Washington is impressed
The diplomatic crisis is making waves, observes Gazeta Wyborcza:
“On Tuesday, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence advised consumers to stop buying popular Chinese mobile phones and advised owners to switch to other devices. ... Since China is against the name Taiwan appearing officially in international relations, it was enough for Vilnius to allow the bureau to be called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania to cause a stir in Beijing. Washington, on the other hand, was impressed. Last week, Biden's national security advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyte and offered his support in the face of Chinese pressure.”