6 Lithuanians among 10 Baltic lawmakers set to visit Taiwan, in move likely to anger Beijing
- The visit comes despite repeated warnings from Beijing against official interaction with Taipei, and its recent downgrading of Lithuania ties over the issue
- Lithuanian lawmaker says the delegation wants to ‘send a signal to Taiwan that it has friends in this part of the world’
The 10 parliamentarians from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are expected to meet the Taiwanese leadership and discuss avenues of potential cooperation.
Six members of the visiting delegation will be from Lithuania.
Confirming that six of the delegates would be from Lithuania, he said both Vilnius and Taipei had high aspirations regarding freedom and democracy, and were interested in cooperating to safeguard those values and counter authoritarianism.
Lithuania, which does not have formal ties with Taipei and recognises Beijing diplomatically, signed a deal with the island in July for the opening of reciprocal de facto embassies, despite warnings from an enraged Beijing which recalled its ambassador to Vilnius.
The “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania” was inaugurated in Vilnius on November 18, the first in Eastern Europe to bear a name that included the word “Taiwan.”
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Matas Maldeikis, leader of the Lithuanian parliament’s Taiwan Friendship Group, would be in Taipei to attend a legislative forum on December 2-3, along with some colleagues and lawmakers from Latvia and Estonia, numbering 10 in all.
“In addition … [they] will visit President Tsai Ing-wen, Premier Su Tseng-chang and legislative speaker Yu Shyi-kun,” a ministry spokeswoman said.
They will also meet Foreign Minister Wu and members of other government departments, including the economic and technology ministries, as well as various Taiwanese economic establishments, she added.
Maldeikis told Reuters on Wednesday that the six Lithuanian lawmakers travelling to the island would represent both government and opposition parties, and include a lawmaker who was sanctioned by Beijing in March.
“We want to send a signal to Taiwan that it has friends in this part of the world,” Maldeikis said.
Observers said Lithuania’s move to ignore Beijing’s warnings in reaching a deal with Taipei to open representative offices would inspire more European countries to voice their support for the island.
Noting that the US has been seeking support from allies in Europe to counter Beijing, Li said Lithuania’s move would encourage more European countries – annoyed by what they perceive to be Beijing’s growing political and economic hegemony – to rile mainland Chinese authorities by voicing their support for Taiwan.
The policy blueprint released by the new coalition government in Germany on Wednesday marked the first time that Taiwan had been included in such a document from Berlin.
Apart from calling for peaceful cross-strait consensus, it stressed that, while adhering to the one-China policy, Germany also supports Taiwan’s efforts to join global organisations, and emphasised the need for a coordinated effort with the US and like-minded countries to reduce “strategic reliance on China”.
In response, Taiwan thanked Germany for its support, saying the two sides had deepened their exchanges, including signing 12 cooperation agreements in the past four years.
On Tuesday, the Dutch House of Representatives also adopted a motion supporting Taiwan’s participation in the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).
The motion referred to Taiwan as an important partner of the Netherlands in business and combating global crime – a move hailed by Taipei as an indication of growing friendship.