The European Union should look for ways to reduce dependence on China, especially by concentrating manufacturing in Europe or cooperating with countries that share similar values, according to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.
“I think that the recent events related to Lithuania have a certain impact on the general stance of the European Union, given that we see increased aggressiveness on the part of China, its stronger wish to dictate its own terms and, of course, to play a bigger role in the world,” he said after the informal meeting of the European Council in Slovenia on Wednesday.
In this context, the European Union “shall act quickly and decisively” and shall “reduce its dependence from China in various aspects”, Nausėda said.
After the manufacturing problems highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, “we have to concentrate more production chains in our own countries, our continent, or to cooperate with other countries that are similar to us in their way of thinking,” he added.
Lithuania has recently criticised the human rights situation in China and has blocked Chinese investments, and the government has announced plans to open a trade office in Taiwan, which China considers to be a rebellious province.
The bilateral relations between Vilnius and Beijing further deteriorated in May after Lithuania left China's 17+1 economic and political cooperation forum with Central and Eastern European countries, calling the format "divisive".
Taipei's decision to open a representative office in Vilnius under the name "Taiwan" marked a turning point.
In response, China recalled its ambassador to Vilnius in August and demanded that Lithuania withdraw its envoy to Beijing.
Diana Mickevičienė, the Lithuanian ambassador, returned to Vilnius in early September.
China has recently started halting freight trains to Lithuania and stopped issuing food export permits, cut credit limits for Lithuanian companies and raised prices.