Lithuania calls on Europe, contrary to China, to prepare for ‘coercion’ from Beijing

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis speaks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department prior to a meeting in Washington, DC, USA, September 15, 2021. Mandel Ngan / Pool via REUTERS

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WASHINGTON, November 24 (Reuters) – Lithuania will adapt to the “short-term” economic pain that China has faced in its efforts to strengthen ties with Taiwan, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Wednesday, urging Europe to cope with Beijing’s economic “compulsion”. by engaging more in the Indo-Pacific.

China on Sunday downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania due to the Baltic country’s move to allow autonomous Taiwan to open a de facto embassy there. read more Lithuania has formal relations with China and not Taiwan.

Beijing views democratically governed Taiwan as a province, and Lithuanian officials say China has also sought to inflict pain such as cutting trade ties in retaliation for its decision.

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Landsbergis told Reuters in an interview in Washington that such losses would be short-lived as Lithuania worked to make its supply chains less dependent on China.

“In the short term, it’s painful for any country when your contracts are cut,” Landsbergis said. “But it’s short-term because the markets are adapting. Companies are adapting.”

Landsbergis said that China had not only cut ties with Lithuanian companies, but had approached companies in third countries to pressure them not to do business with Lithuania.

“So much of what we produce is partly produced with or within China. That’s why we need to find ways to create supply chains and how we can make them more resilient so they can withstand this coercion. cutting contracts, the secondary sanctions, “Landsbergis said.

He said Lithuania would provide countries with a model for how to withstand such pressure, but especially European nations should become more involved in the Indo-Pacific to increase their economic security.

“We need to understand that all countries are now involved in the Indo-Pacific,” Landsbergis said.

“Some of our NATO allies take a huge responsibility in the region and offer security guarantees to countries, and that means we also need to at least have an understanding of what is going on, or probably play a part in this,” he said. .

Landsbergis previously met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who, according to a State Department statement, stressed “iron-clad American solidarity” with his NATO ally.

Sherman welcomed Lithuania, a country of about three million, which expanded its ties with Indo-Pacific democracies.

Washington has sought to create more space for Taiwan in the international system, one of the main factors in an increasingly sour relationship with Beijing. Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said last week that the United States’ attempts to expand cooperation with its partners and allies in the region caused China “heartburn”. Beijing described the movements as Cold War thinking. Read more

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Reporting by Michael Martina and Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Grant McCool

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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