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Lithuanian art, cultural events suspended in China amid tension

Baltic nation’s relationship with China has worsened while its friendship with Taiwan grows

China's retaliation against Lithuania for befriending Taiwan has reached cultural sector. 

China's retaliation against Lithuania for befriending Taiwan has reached cultural sector.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a recent interview with Lithuania National Radio and Television, the cultural attaché of Lithuania’s embassy in China, Tomas Ivanauskas, said that all cultural and art events in China since May have been canceled or suspended.

Ivanauskas said although he does not believe in the separation of culture and politics, as this has not held up historically, he was still surprised and sorry to see how far-reaching the impact of the worsening Lithuania-China relationship has been. He added that he believes this year is especially sensitive to China's authorities because China is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics in addition to celebrating the 100th anniversary of CCP’s establishment.

According to Ivanauskas, people in Taiwan’s cultural industry have reached out to the Lithuanian government to express interest in strengthening cultural exchanges. Both sides are still in the early stages of discussions.

Apart from arts and culture-related events, Ivanauskas said publishing books has also become more difficult in China.

Chinese government mouthpiece the Global Times immediately responded to the news, accusing Lithuania of “playing the victim while infringing upon Chinese sovereignty.” It also said Ivanauskas’ remarks about Taiwan “revealed [his] thoughts and schemes” and that "this type of ‘gloating’ or ‘threat’ will only backfire.”

Following the announcement of Lithuania and Taiwan’s intention to establish mutual representative offices and the subsequent naming of the “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania,” China quickly expressed outrage and retaliated. Not only did China recall its ambassador to Lithuania but it also blocked the import of a number of goods from the country, suddenly complaining about “pests” in agricultural products.

Matas Maldeikis, chair of Lithuania’s Parliamentary Taiwan Friendship Group, said China sees Lithuania as a “second class” country with no autonomy and that through these actions, Beijing seeks to warn other countries against following in Vilnius' footsteps. However, according to Bank of Lithuania assessments, even ceasing exports to China entirely would have only limited impacts on Lithuania's GDP, CNA reported

Updated : 2021-09-20 05:13 GMT+08:00