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Lithuania seeks to decrease economic dependence on China

China using trade to punish Lithuania for expanded relations with Taiwan

Flag of Lithuania. (Getty Images photo)

Flag of Lithuania. (Getty Images photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Facing an economic backlash from Beijing after agreeing to a Taiwan Representative Office in its capital of Vilnius, Lithuania is seeking to decrease reliance on China and so far has the backing of multiple European countries.

According to a survey by its foreign ministry, the Baltic country’s main trade links with China are in the technology, agriculture, food processing, timber, apparel, and logistics industries, Lithuanian National Radio and Television reported. The poll also pointed out that one of the most common occurrences in bilateral trade with China is the Chinese partner refusing to extend a contract or sign a new deal.

Therefore, the Lithuanian foreign ministry is taking steps to help companies find new sources of imports and exports and cooperating with the U.S. and the EU to develop measures to prevent “autocratic regimes from using economic pressure for political purposes.”

Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists CEO Ricardas Sartatavicius said that due to restrictions on raw materials from China, grain processing companies have already encountered raw supply issues, and the timber and meat industries are facing similar challenges.

Concerned about China’s use of trade as a retaliatory tactic following Lithuania and Taiwan’s agreement to establish representative offices in each other’s countries, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa penned a letter to EU member states on Sept. 13, stating that Lithuania is a sovereign country and has every right to have relations with Taiwan. He called on leaders of the world to support the Baltic country in its diplomatic dispute with China, CNA said.

The foreign ministers of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania met in Helsinki on Sept. 15 to discuss their countries’ relations with China. After the meeting, Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Arnoldas Pranckevicius said the countries all expressed support for Lithuania and urged the EU to stand up to China, per CNA.