Beijing warns Lithuania to back away from business ties, cooperation with Taiwan
- Lithuania pledges closer cooperation with Taiwan after launching its representative office in Taipei on Monday
- Taipei is investing millions in business, financial and industrial partnerships with Lithuania
Lithuania must “prudently handle” the Taiwan question and effectively maintain a political foundation for bilateral ties with China, mainland foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.
He made the comment in response to Lithuania’s official launch of its office in Taipei.
In an opening ceremony in Taipei on Monday, Paulius Lukauskas, Lithuania’s de facto envoy in Taiwan, pledged closer cooperation with the island, especially in trade and investment.
Taiwan will put at least €30 million (US$29.99 million) towards business, financing and industrial cooperation with Lithuania, which has defied repeated warnings from Beijing against strengthening ties with the self-ruled island.
According to the island’s National Development Council, the fund operator, Taiwania Capital, has already approved a €3.5 million investment in Lithuania’s ultra-fast laser technology producer Litilit.
“Two more investments in Lithuania are expected to be announced later this year or by early next year, bringing the total to €10 million,” a council official said.
Through a €1 billion loan facility set up earlier this year in Taiwan, the island’s Export-Import Bank was also soon expected to approve a loan guarantee of up to €9 million for two joint ventures between Lithuanian and Taiwanese companies, the official said.
The island would also provide another €10 million towards production of semiconductors, electric buses and laser projects, the official said, adding there would be more investments from the island for the Baltic state in coming years.
The island had also approved imports of fish, eggs and dairy products from Lithuania to help boost agricultural trade, the official noted.
Taiwan’s €3.5 billion investment in the laser company was the first to be made since the island established the Central and European Investment Fund earlier this year.
The fund is focused on developing business ties with Central and Eastern European countries, including Lithuania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which have been increasingly annoyed by Beijing over what they perceive as economic invasions of their countries.
“With authoritarian countries using trade sanctions as a tool to threaten others … it would be helpful for Taiwan and Lithuania to work together to find a new blueprint to achieve economic development and enhance supply chain resilience in the democratic world.”
Lithuanian Minister of the Economy and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė said the opening of the office in Taiwan was aimed at strengthening Lithuania’s position in the Asian region, expanding exports of Lithuanian lasers and biotechnologies, as well as food products.
“Today, we can welcome the first achievements of Lithuania’s economic cooperation with Taiwan,” she said.
According to her office, despite trade sanctions imposed by Beijing, exports of Lithuanian goods to its 10 main trading partners in the Indo-Pacific region amounted to “half a billion euros” in January-August this year, and were 60 per cent higher than in the same period last year. Lithuanian exports to Taiwan amounted to €19 million.