Lithuania needs more than dropping ‘Taiwan’ from office name to restore ties with China
Artwork: Liu Rui/GT
US diplomats have suggested Lithuania consider changing the name of the “Taiwan representative office” in Vilnius, the Financial Times reported, citing several people familiar with the matter. But the report also says the White House and the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry have denied that the United States did it.
The representative office named “Taiwan” in Vilnius clearly defies the one-China principle and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs.
Although the authenticity of the news of the name change remains uncertain, it does indicate, to some extent, that the United States is evaluating this incident and its possible subsequent impact. Some US political elites fear the incident will give mainland China a firmer footing to further contain Taiwan’s secessionists in international society.
Lithuanian politicians are not on the same wavelength as their government. Some senior Lithuanian officials, including President Gitanas Nauseda, have admitted that Lithuania made a mistake in allowing Taiwan to open the office in Vilnius, and the Lithuanian shadow cabinet reportedly issued a statement in which it hoped relations between the Lithuania and China could be normalized and expects the Lithuanian government to fix its mistakes and rename the “Taiwanese Representative Office” to “Taipei Representative Office”.
But if Lithuania is to mend its ties with China, it will take more than just renaming the office. Lithuania changed its policy towards China for a while. For example, Vilnius announced in May 2021 that it would withdraw from the 17+1 cooperation mechanism between China and Central and Eastern European countries.
The current Lithuanian government fully follows the lead of the United States with regard to China policy. The name of the “Taiwan office” is just one vivid example, and the root cause lies in the fact that its own perception of China has changed.
In this context, Sino-Lithuanian relations will not return to normal even if Lithuania renames the office. The key is whether the Lithuanian government can clearly recognize the reality. Lithuania needs to make substantial adjustments to its overall policy towards China, rather than completely following the US agenda.
Many analysts in the international community believe that the Lithuanian provocations against China were instigated by Washington. When Lithuania agreed to name the office as “Taiwan” and the Chinese mainland took countermeasures in response, the United States evidently hoped to exploit this incident and stir up a wave of anti- Chinese, in order to intensify its so-called “coercion on China”. theory and relaunch its campaign against China. This explains why the United States has declared its support for Lithuania.
But when the incident turned into a situation that could impact US national interests, Washington would push Lithuania to change direction, based entirely on the interests of the US itself. In other words, when the allies or partners of the United States lose their values to be exploited or harm the United States, the United States will reject them. This has been proven over and over again. The withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan is a striking recent example of this. This fully demonstrates the hypocrisy and unreliability of the United States.
It further reveals that the United States pursues double standards regarding its foreign policy. For the United States, allies are only pawns to serve its own interests or ambitions. Lines like “support” are just rhetoric, and US allies must remain vigilant.
The author is a research associate at the China Institute of International Studies. email@example.com