Lithuania, according to the FM, is demonstrating to the rest of the world how to deal with China.

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Lithuania, according to the FM, is demonstrating to the rest of the world how to deal with China.

Lithuania’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the EU nation is showing the globe how to fight China’s growing pressure by diversifying supply chains and cooperating with European democracies.

Lithuania, one of the EU’s smallest members, has been punching above its weight diplomatically by allowing Taiwan to create an office in its own name and, separately, welcome the opposition from Belarus, which claims to have won the election last year.

Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said he discussed Lithuania’s efforts to lessen its reliance on China for supplies with senior US officials during a visit to Washington, and called for longer-term initiatives to assist other countries under pressure.

“I believe the most important lesson from Lithuania is that economic compulsion does not always mean that a country must abandon its ability to make autonomous foreign policy decisions,” Landsbergis told AFP.

“You’ll probably be threatened, and you’ll be yelled at in Chinese media headlines, but you’ll be able to handle it.”

“I have to state that the single problem of democracies is not being able to help each other,” he remarked, whereas authoritarian countries lament democracy’s failure.

Lithuania, like practically every other country, recognizes only China and not Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing regards as a colony that has to be reunited.

Lithuania, however, went one step farther than the United States, allowing Taiwan to create an office in Vilnius in its own name, prompting China to downgrade both diplomatic and trade ties with the Baltic state.

According to Landsbergis, the retaliation supports the perception that China’s main strategy is “not diplomacy,” but “coming from a position of power and coercing countries.”

“Countries believe there is an invisible sword of Damocles hanging over their heads” if they offend Beijing, he added.

Other countries are inquiring about Lithuania’s experience, according to Landsbergis, and they “100% wish to have more room to make autonomous judgments regarding their foreign policy.”

Lithuania sends a meager 250 million euros ($280 million) to China each year, but the foreign minister said the bigger issue is Chinese-made parts in the supply chain, with the small country making a concerted effort to switch to democratic partners.

While some Europeans have criticized the United States’ increasing attention on Asia, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis said his country intended to be a “responsible NATO partner” and demonstrate an interest in the Pacific.

Despite the huge geographical and cultural barrier, Lithuanians, who were once under Soviet communist authority, felt a “feeling of affinity” with Taiwanese, according to Landsbergis.

The connection. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.

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