TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the results from Taiwan's elections poured in, showing that President Tsai (蔡英文) has received a fresh mandate to govern, Lithuanian parliamentarian Mantas Adomenas explained the special kinship he feels with Taiwan and said Lithuania should consider becoming the first European Union member state to switch diplomatic recognition from China to Taiwan.
A longtime supporter and frequent visitor of Taiwan, Adomenas first visited the island in 2010 as part of a Lithuanian delegation soon after being elected to the Seimas, the country's parliament. He said he found it to be a "very modern, extremely progressive, dynamic state" that he hoped Lithuania could emulate.
Adomenas told Taiwan News that "Having grown up in the Soviet Union, I know what it means to be ignored," recalling that postwar Soviet-occupied Lithuania also experienced, as Taiwan frequently does today, being viewed as a place that would "never be a state again."
He recalled that his friend's father, who in the 1970s served as ambassador to the Vatican, told the story of a junior diplomat from anti-communist Taiwan who would make regular taxi trips to the Free Lithuania embassy, one of only three in the world at the time, "with several thousand dollars for the upkeep of the Lithuanian embassy."
Adomenas said that when he heard the story, he felt that his country had a "debt of honor to discharge." This debt, it seems, may be repaid by offering Taiwan support at a time when its diplomatic presence is at an all-time low.
Last October, several members of Adomenas' Homeland Union and the Freedom Party recommended opening a representative office in Taiwan. Addressing the possibility, Adomenas said, "I would probably go further and switch recognition from Mainland China to Taiwan. Why not?"
Lithuania may be well poised to do this. After all, he observed, it does five times as much trade with neighboring Latvia as it does with China, thus the world's second-largest economy has little economic leverage over the Baltic state.
In addition, over the past year, China's increasingly aggressive posture, its crimes against humanity in Xinjiang province, and its persecution of the Falun Gong, the Church of the Almighty God, and other religious groups have gradually entered the public conscience in Lithuania, where authoritarian rule in a not-so-distant memory.
Moreover, the country's State Security Department in February of 2019 for the first time deemed China a threat to Lithuania's democratic way of life. Between the Communist Chinese threat and the case for human rights, the parliamentarian believes the time is ripe for the government to seriously consider cutting ties with autocratic China in favor of democratic Taiwan.
Establishing a representative office in Taiwan would be a feasible first step, he said. But given the growing awareness of the China question in his country and throughout Europe seen over the past year, Adomenas said reconsideration of the one-China policy may be "another swing of the pendulum."