Lithuania's Ties with China Sour, and Warm with Taiwan
On August 10th, the People’s Republic of China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded Vilnius’ recall its representative to Beijing. The reason? Lithuania’s decision to allow Taipei to open a representative office in Vilnius under the name "Taiwanese Representative Office." Sino-Lithuanian relations started deteriorating in 2019. That year, Vilnius identified Chinese espionage as a threat to its national security. Since then, Lithuania has opposed the Hong Kong National Security Law at the UN Human Rights Council, withdrawn from the China-led 17+1 grouping, and criticized PRC policies in Xinjiang. In the meantime, Vilnius’ ties with Taiwan are warming. The new coalition government in Vilnius announced in November 2020 that it would follow a values-based foreign policy. Leaders pledged to “oppose any violation of human rights and democratic freedoms…from Belarus to Taiwan.” In addition to Taiwan’s plans to open a diplomatic mission in Vilnius, Lithuania will open its own trade office in Taipei this fall.
Bonnie Glaser talks with Dr. Konstantinas Andrijauskas about the drivers of Lithuania’s recent policy shifts, Chinese interests in the region, and the potential for future Lithuania-Taiwan cooperation. Dr. Andrijauskas is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Vilnius University’s Institute of International Relations and Political Science. His research focuses on China’s domestic and foreign policies and the political systems and international relations of Asia.