On a typical Wednesday morning, a group of 19 people stood on one of Beijing’s busy ring roads, waiting for a bus to take them to the airport. Adults, teens, and cats, they report Economists Reporter.
It was not just any morning commuter, but the staff of the Lithuanian embassy and their relatives who had been hurriedly called home. Also present were colleagues from other embassies who offered airport escorts.
How did Lithuania end? With 2.3 million people there, why do their diplomats need escorts?
The departure from Beijing follows an escalating conflict with China that has been going on for several months. The center of the conflict is Taiwan, the democratic island state on which China claims it belongs and would be reunited with the mainland if that were the case by military means.
Stirring China’s ire by implying that Taiwan is independent is making the eyes of Beijing’s political leadership shine. Only a few countries in the world recognize Taiwan diplomatically, though relations and exchanges with Taiwan. Sweden has a consulate in Taiwan and Taiwan has representation in Stockholm. But its official name is the Taipei mission in Sweden, so as not to bother China. In the same way, SAS flies to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, not Taiwan.
This is Lithuania Diplomatic symbols violated. This summer, the state decided to allow Taiwan to open a representation in Vilnius called Representation of Taiwan. In November, the gates opened, much to the chagrin of China. From China’s point of view, what might seem like a fancy word is a violation of its sovereignty.
China has tried in various ways to pressure Lithuania to jump off the “wrong path” that the country has taken. In the same spirit in which Australia was sanctioned economically after criticizing China for not allowing an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, Lithuania has come under financial pressure.
Lithuanian exports to China, which are not very large, were banned, because the country was no longer on the tariff lists and therefore companies could not advertise goods from Lithuania. Even after returning Lithuania to the list, the goods must be returned from there.
Already in September The ambassador of Lithuania in Beijing left the country on the advice of China and on November, the diplomatic status was lowered In the embassy to a sufficient level chargé d’affaires as chief. This week, Lithuanian diplomats were told they would be denied their diplomatic identity cards. That was when Lithuania decided to call them home. According to Lithuania, the danger was that they would be unsafe in Beijing without diplomatic immunity.
“It is not good for a diplomat in China to have a strict deadline for returning an ID card, especially when that ID is your visa and the requirements to reapply are not a common decision. Diplomats cannot be held hostage in diplomacy. I am glad my colleagues have arrived in Europe” , so wrote the recalled ambassador of Lithuania from Beijing, Diana Mikhevicini, on Twitter.
As it broke out this summer Lithuania cooperation known as 17 + 1, is a China-sponsored cooperation between China and countries in Eastern Europe.
The conflict between Lithuania and China as David against Goliath. Lithuania has a population of 2.3 million, China has a population of 1.4 billion and is the second largest economy in the world. China sees Lithuania’s talk of threatening the security of its diplomats as a fiction.
According to TT, Lithuania will ask the EU for help in dealing with the escalating conflict with China.
– The President will talk with EU leaders about the pressure we are facing, and we believe that this will lead to a discussion on how the EU and the European Commission in particular can help Lithuania in this matter, says Asta Skisgiret, Adviser to President Gitanas Nuseda, in an interview with the Lithuanian Public Service Channel .
So far, Lithuania has won the support of the rest of the EU member states and the European Commission has warned China against violating global trade rules by banning Lithuanian products.
The question is how long will it last? EU support. Many EU countries depend more on trade with China than Lithuania. at the same time you have The EU’s attitude toward China has increased recently Public opinion became more skeptical.
For example, the European Union canceled an investment agreement between China and the European Union, which became apparent after years of negotiations, after the European Union refused to sign because China had blacklisted parliamentarians and EU officials who accused China of violating human rights.
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