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2021.09.27 17:00

Lithuania has no long-term plan on China, says Estonian MP

LRT.lt2021.09.27 17:00

It appears Vilnius has no long-term plan amid its diplomatic confrontation with China, Marko Mihkelson, head of the country’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said in an interview with Estonian daily Postimees.

“I have asked my Lithuanian colleague about their long-term plan, [but] I have not received a proper answer,” he said.

In the interview published on September 24, Mihkelson said small countries cannot afford to open fronts it cannot win, adding that “foreign policy needs to be more than high-sounding press releases”.

His comments come following the rise of tensions between China and Lithuania. Both countries have now recalled their ambassadors for consultations.

"As Lithuania’s ally, we can only demonstrate solidarity in what is currently a very serious economic blockade against the country and a situation where China has asked the Lithuanian ambassador to leave," said Mihkelson.

The flare-up comes after Vilnius decided to host a “Taiwanese” representation in Lithuania, breaking from the tradition to name the country’s de facto embassies after the capital city Taipei. China considers any moves to recognise Taiwan internationally, which it considers a breakaway province, as a red line.

Read more: Lithuanian president calls for smoothing the edges in ties with China

Although the Baltic states should not ignore violations of international law or human rights, “we need to work with our European and North American allies on how to balance China’s clearly aggressive foreign policy and economic influence”.

“Being a thousand times smaller than China, there is no way for us to change its course by ourselves, no matter how resonant our statements,” he added.

The confrontation with China over Taiwan is more dangerous than the border crisis with Belarus, according to Mihkelson.

“The same propaganda outlet that suggested joining forces with Russia to teach Lithuania a lesson – Global Times – is now saying that China should fly over Taiwan” to provoke it into a conflict, he said. “There was no such rhetoric in China 5–10 years ago. We have entered a very dangerous period.”

“Foreign policy absolutely must not [...] be tied to specific parties’ political programmes. This includes a hint for our good colleagues in Lithuania – domestic policy overlapping too much with foreign policy activities,” Mihkelson said.

Read more: Amid rows with China and Belarus, will Lithuania find itself alone?

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