Lithuania is at the epicenter of the struggle between China and Taiwan: no one has seen such things for a long time
On Thursday, the Taiwan business delegation will continue its visit to Lithuania, exploring investment opportunities and looking for trade partners among Lithuanian companies.
Officials stress the visit is economic rather than political, but it raises Taiwan in the international arena in an effort to isolate China’s anger.
According to experts, China itself has interests both in Lithuania and in Central and Eastern European countries.
Konstantinas Andrijauskas, a political scientist at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, says that the actions of China and Taiwan can be called the beginning of geopolitical competition in the region, which is partly reminiscent of Beijing’s and Taipei’s struggle for international recognition in the second half.
However, according to him, China, which then lured the states with money, is losing its political image, and here is an opportunity for Taiwan.
“Taiwan is any country in the world where it can increase its actual diploma capacity because the trends have been the opposite for several decades,” the expert told BNS.
“China’s promises in Lithuania about milk rivers and honey mountains have not turned into something really tangible. Taiwan, meanwhile, now has the opportunity and is interested in generating quick success stories if it wants to prove that it pays to be friends with it, ”he added.
According to Linas Didvalis, the head of the Center for Asian Studies at Vytautas Magnus University (VMU), the visit of a very large Taiwanese delegation to Lithuania, which began on Wednesday, is unprecedented and shows that deepening relations are not just a political declaration.
“A visit from Taiwan on this scale is an example we have not seen in a long time. (…) The expectation of the Lithuanian government is visible that the mutual relations will only strengthen, which would encourage business to move forward, ”said the political scientist of BNS.
According to him, Taiwan is an advanced economy, therefore Lithuania, which seeks to create higher value-added economy, should benefit from this partnership: “Both sides have a good result of contact.
Predictability before potential
Representatives of Lithuania and Taiwan signed six memoranda of cooperation on Wednesday. They strengthen cooperation in the fields of semiconductors, life sciences, biotechnology, laser and satellite technologies, crystal research and finance.
According to the data of the export promotion agency Versli Lietuva, Lithuania exported goods to China (excluding Taiwan and Hong Kong) for 316 million tons last year. of which EUR 244 million Exports of goods of Lithuanian origin amounted to EUR 72 million. – re-export of goods. Exports of services amounted to 46 million. euros.
In terms of total exports, China’s share of exports of goods of Lithuanian origin was 1.4%, re-exports – 0.6%, and exports of services – 0.4%.
At that time, in 2020, Lithuania exported goods worth 19 million to Taiwan. EUR 15 million of which EUR 4 million in exports of Lithuanian origin. – re-export of goods. Value of services exports in 2020 was 0.3 million. euros.
Taiwan’s share in exports of goods of Lithuanian origin last year was 0.1 per cent, re-exports and exports of services – less than 0.1 per cent.
According to the Department of Statistics, Lithuanian direct investment in China (excluding Taiwan and Hong Kong) amounted to LTL 38.56 million at the end of the second quarter of this year. There was no investment in Taiwan. At that time, Chinese (excluding Taiwan and Hong Kong) direct investment in Lithuania at the end of the period amounted to LTL 11.39 million. at that time, Taiwan had -0.24 million. euros.
According to L. Didvalis, considering the not very large volumes of exports to China, the economic losses caused by the diplomatic dispute between Vilnius and Beijing can be compensated through a more active partnership with Taiwan.
“Since the volumes are really small, it is possible to offset them with Taiwan, I think the mission is possible. Taiwan can really take that position, “he explained.
However, the political scientist pointed out that “this is what needs to go: take into account the peculiarities of business, build trust”.
For his part, K. Andrijauskas pointed out that, from China, economic rather than political logic is more valid in relations with Taiwan.
“This means that the Taiwanese authorities will not be able to press the shut-off button unless someone already likes it, as China often does. In contrast, Taiwan wants economic ties more than China. The latter is very interested in the intensity of economic ties to the extent that it can be used to achieve political goals, “said the expert.
Therefore, he said, Taiwan’s investment is safer because it is more predictable, although China may offer more money.
China is outraged by the Taiwanese visit to Europe, and in the case of Lithuania, continues to be angry about the opening of a future economic representation in Vilnius.
According to L. Didvalis, similar moods prevail in the media supporting the Chinese Communist Party.
“The rhetoric is really sharp. Sometimes there are very strong statements that Lithuania must be punished, that Lithuania must suffer some damage. “One of the strongest articles I have seen was about China having to unite with Russia and Belarus – countries that have close ties with Lithuania to create pressure and teach Lithuania,” said the political scientist.
Taiwan intends to open a trade representative office in Lithuania later this year, and promises to open a similar representative office in Taipei in the beginning of 2022.
L. Didvalis stated that it is difficult to predict the problems of Lithuania, Taiwan and China in the future, because Lithuania, which issued a representation named after Taiwanese people, entered a “familiar field”.
“We can speculate a lot about what China can do to teach Lithuania and send signals to other countries so that they do not do so. What Lithuania has created is unexplored waters that need to be understood, and there are no examples that would help to do so, ”the expert explained.
“What Lithuania is doing is a serious change in the status quo, despite the fact that our foreign policy makers emphasize Taipei’s representations in several EU countries. The last time Taipei’s representative office in the EU capital was opened in Bratislava was in 2003 – even when neither Lithuania nor Slovakia was even a member of the EU, ”said K. Andrijauskas.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (Joseph U) also paid a separate visit to Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but, unlike the business delegation, he will not visit Lithuania.
According to K. Andrijauskas, it would have been logical to expect J. Wu’s visit in Vilnius as well.
“Taiwanese do not organize so many international visits and it would have been logical to expect Lithuania to invite him. That probably didn’t happen, but the answer to the question is “why?” Is the subject of speculation, “said the political scientist.
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