TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Baltic European Union member state of Lithuania is planning to open a trade office in Taiwan even though it maintains official diplomatic relations with China, reports said Wednesday (March 3).
In addition, the Lithuanian government is also considering abandoning the 17+1 initiative, a cooperation framework between China and 17 nations in Central and Eastern Europe, CNA reported. A motion to that effect was approved on March 2 by the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, according to Lithuanian TV station LRT.
The decision was made following frustration at Chinese attempts to control basic infrastructure projects in European countries. Parliamentarians said Lithuania should develop closer ties to democracies in Asia.
Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said 17+1 had brought his country no benefits and only created divisions between the European member nations. However, he is not considering leaving the Chinese-dominated initiative immediately but first seeks to modify ties with China to make them more effective, according to CNA.
Due to its past as part of the Soviet Union, Lithuania sympathizes with small democratic nations being bullied by large communist neighbors, the report said. Last year, more than 200 prominent Lithuanians signed an open letter asking the president to help Taiwan join international organizations and to open a representative office in Taipei.
The coalition agreement between three parties, which formed a new government after the October 2020 elections, pledged to conduct a “values-based foreign policy” while supporting people “fighting for freedom around the world, from Belarus to Taiwan,” according to China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe.