Lithuania shows grit in tension with China

October 1, 2021

Lithuania shows grit in tension with China

China is facing off with an unexpected adversary on the world stage. In recent months, the Communist country has had problems with Taiwan, the United States, Australia, and some African nations.

However, a tiny European country has been going toe to toe with the rising superpower in the past few weeks. Lithuania, a country with a population of under 3 million people, is determined not to be intimidated by the Asian giant.

Taiwan is at the root of the tension between Lithuania and China

The tense exchanges between the two countries first started in August when the Baltic nation decided to develop deeper ties with China’s nemesis, Taiwan.

Lithuania and Taiwan opted to exchange diplomatic offices, and China immediately saw this as an affront. Beijing has long been focused on limiting Taipei’s position on the global stage.

China chose to make an example of Lithuania to prevent other European countries from taking the same route. The Chinese government recalled its ambassador and suspended trade relations with the European country.

In the past few weeks, Lithuania has been ridiculed many times on Chinese state media. Despite this harsh treatment, the European country is showing no sign of backing down.

Lithuania tells its officials to dump Chinese cellphones

It has vowed to maintain its relations with Taiwan and is looking for a diplomatic solution to the problems with China. However, a detente does not seem to be in the cards now, especially after Lithuania’s latest move.

Lithuania has decided to encourage its officials to stop using Chinese cellphones after it was revealed that they contain a censorship software that features 449 terms banned by the Chinese Communist Party.

Although the program is technically not active on these phones, the leaders of the Baltic nation think it will be better to go in a different direction.

China dislikes the move, and some observers wonder if the tension between China and Lithuania will not spill to the rest of the European continent. A meeting will take place next week, and other European countries will discuss the issue.

Lithuania blames China for escalating the feud because it is a small country. It is a way for the Asian superpower to flex its muscles without facing any serious consequence.

Anti-China stance is a powerful message in domestic politics

However, domestic politics are also at play for the European nation. The Homeland Union party led by current foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis campaigned last year on taking a stand for democracy and resisting authoritarian countries like China.

The party gained 19 seats in the Seimas, Lithuania’s unicameral parliament, with this

kind of center-right message. The Homeland Union even joined a winning coalition that propelled Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė to power.

Anti-China messaging has been a great tool to motivate voters in some countries around the globe. Former U.S. President Donald Trump turned China-bashing into an art form when he won in 2016 and during his four years in office.

Despite being unpopular in many areas, Trump often got great marks in polls for his apparent toughness when handling China.

According to polls, most Europeans are worried about how China conducts its affairs on the world stage.

A new Cold War could even be around the corner between the U.S. and China for some experts.

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