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France takes assertive stance against Chinese coercion

Paris planning defensive measures to counter Chinese sanctions against Lithuania

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French President Emmanuel Macron.

French President Emmanuel Macron. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As France assumes the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, it is clear the country plans for the bloc to take a more assertive stance against China’s aggression toward Lithuania.

When Lithuania and Taiwan agreed to mutually establish representative offices in each other’s capitals, China struck back by recalling its ambassador in Vilnius and halting Lithuanian imports.

Beijing also banned goods from other EU countries, including France, Germany, and Sweden, that contain Lithuanian components, according to Politico.

Although the EU has an "anti-coercion instrument" in the works to respond to these kinds of situations, it could take years to be fully enforced.

When asked by Politico whether France would push for more immediate EU action to counter China, a senior French government official on Thursday replied, "Yes. We will take measures very quickly."

“The anti-coercion instrument is still under negotiation, but maybe something can be done in advance in support of Lithuania,” he said. The official also said France will prioritize defense measures and “assertiveness” in its trade agenda during its six-month presidency.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday (Jan. 5) also weighed in on the matter, pledging to “work with our allies and partners, including Germany, to stand up against intimidation like this."

"We have immediate concern about the government of China’s attempts to bully Lithuania, a country of fewer than 3 million people," he said.

Germany's new foreign affairs minister, Annalena Baerbock, who had a meeting with Blinken on Wednesday, said, “We as Europeans stand in solidarity at Lithuania’s side.”

In response to China’s boycott of Lithuanian products, Taiwan has used multiple channels to help out as much as possible, ultimately purchasing 120 containers of agricultural goods and raw materials. Some of them will be transferred to other countries, Taiwanese representative to Lithuania Eric Huang (黃鈞耀) said.

Additionally, the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation purchased 20,000 bottles of rum from the Baltic nation to save the liquor from potentially being blocked by Chinese customs.