On Tuesday, August 10, the Chinese Communist Party withdrew its ambassador from Lithuania in response to the announcement that Taiwan will open an office in the European country under the name ‘Taiwan.’ Using its state media, the CCP threatened to ‘punish’ Lithuania for crossing the ‘red line,’ but a Lithuanian parliamentarian said they are afraid of it.
The tension between the two countries began when last July 20, MP Dovilė Šakalienė Šakalienė announced that Lithuania would open a ‘Taiwan representative office.’
Taiwan maintains diplomatic, trade, and cultural relations with at least 72 countries worldwide through its trade representative offices, which usually go by the name ‘Taipei office.’
But for the Chinese communist dictatorship, using the name ‘Taiwan’ is tantamount to recognizing the independence of the island, which it claims as part of China.
According to Breitbart, the regime used one of its state-run media, the Global Times, to threaten Lithuania over its decision to open the office, despite Beijing’s earlier request to back down.
“China must take strong countermeasures against Lithuania. If Lithuania persists, China must be prepared for a breakdown in ties. In addition, China should join hands with Russia and Belarus, the two countries that border Lithuania, and punish it. China and Russia are necessary to jointly deal a heavy blow to one or two running dogs of the US to warn other countries,” the ‘editorial’ in the CCP’s propagandist media says.
In its note, the CCP accuses Lithuania of showing courage just because it has the support of the United States.
But for parliamentarian Dovilė Šakalienė Šakalienė, she denies that the situation is as described by the editorial.
“We are small, but we are tough, and we will make our own decisions on who we partner with,” Šakalienė said. “We are not changing our decision, we are still very happy that we are opening the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius and we are hoping to have an even closer relationship in terms of trade, technologies, culture, health and other areas with Taiwan.”
But Lithuania has no intention of any conflict with China, the parliamentarian clarified, but to have its due independence.
She explained that Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union for more than fifty years and fought hard to gain independence from the bloody Russian communist regime.
“When China says Lithuania does something as a puppet of America, it shows that they are incapable of understanding the concept of independent states and of strategic partnerships… for them, it is probably difficult to understand that Lithuania is independent,” Dovilė Šakalienė said.
Lithuania’s special relationship with Taiwan
In earlier statements, Dovilė Šakalienė made it clear that the relationship with the island has as its background the history of the two countries: having been subjugated by communist regimes that wanted to destroy their identity.
“They saw what it means to become unified with China; it means death by strangling,” Šakalienė stated. “It’s not that long ago that we were fighting for our democracy, for our right to keep our language and our culture. We were swallowed by the Soviet Union for half a century. So there are many reasons for supporting Taiwan: political, economic, sentimental, and geopolitical.”
CCP’s warmongering and cowardly message
In the Global Times editorial, the Communist dictatorship even went so far as to use the word ‘war’ to intimidate the tiny European nation.
“China should clarify in its counterattack against Lithuania that the Taiwan question is the redline that should never be crossed, and that China will not allow Lithuania to become an example for other countries to follow.”
“Some European countries must not think about using the Taiwan question as leverage against China. The Taiwan question cannot be used as a bargaining chip. It is a high voltage line, even a watershed between peace and war.”
The propaganda note calls for Russia’s help in ‘punishing’ Lithuania, even though the CCP supposedly has one of the world’s largest armies, yet with zero combat experience against a comparatively small country.
“Lithuania, one of the countries that has gone the farthest in simultaneously provoking China and Russia, should be one that needs to be taught a lesson by the two,” the editorial says.
U.S. and Taiwanese support
Taiwan’s government was also unrepentant about the decision to move forward with the representative office in Lithuania and supported Lithuania’s determination to go ahead with the plans.
According to AP, Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Joanne Ou welcomed what he called Lithuania’s “firm will to defend the concept of national dignity and freedom.”
“The two sides will continue to strengthen exchanges in various fields on the basis of universal values such as democracy, freedom and human rights,” Ou said.
For his part, Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, condemned Beijing’s “coercion.” He said all countries should be able to determine how to handle relations with Taiwan without interference from the CCP.
“We do stand in solidarity with our NATO ally Lithuania and we condemn the PRC’s recent retaliatory actions, including the recall of Beijing’s ambassador to Vilnius and demanding Lithuania recall its ambassador to Beijing,” Price told reporters. “Each country should be able to determine the contours of its own ‘One-China’ policy without outside coercion.”