China’s trade attack on Lithuania exposes EU’s powerlessness
By Stuart Lau and Barbara Moens
December 16, 2021
The EU has no good cards to play as China rapidly ups the ante in its economic hit job against Lithuania.
As Lithuania sought to deepen diplomatic ties with Taiwan over recent months, Beijing has moved to make an example of Vilnius by flexing its massive trade muscle and stopping imports of Lithuanian goods. Business organizations told POLITICO that China’s embargo is now hitting manufactured goods from other EU countries — such as France, Germany and Sweden — that are dependent on Lithuanian supply chains.
Lithuania’s showdown with China kicked off in May when Vilnius pulled out of the 17 + 1 diplomatic format in which Beijing engages with Central and Eastern European countries. Tensions escalated when Taipei and Vilnius set up diplomatic offices in each other’s country. While this fell short of full diplomatic recognition, China has still unleashed a welter of retaliation that shows it is out to stop any deeper warming of EU-Taiwan ties. State media described Lithuania as “a mouse or even just a flea under the feet of fighting elephants.”