China has imposed a customs block on Lithuanian exports, a Lithuanian trade body said on Dec. 3, amid deepening cooperation between its capital Vilnius and Taipei.
Lithuania drew the wrath of the communist regime in Beijing for allowing Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in Vilnius using its own name. In response, Beijing downgraded its diplomatic ties with the Baltic state and suspended consular services there.
The Chinese regime regards the self-ruled island as part of its territory to be united with mainland China and has tried to isolate Taipei on the world stage.
“I regret this decision by the Chinese authorities,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told reporters on Friday.
“It is a pity it was taken despite Lithuania explaining quite clearly that opening of the Taiwanese representation does not clash with the ‘One China’ principle, which we keep to.”
He said he had asked Lithuania’s government to find a way to compensate businesses for their losses.
Lithuania next week will ask the European Commission “to get involved and defend Lithuania’s interests,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Reuters on Friday.
Initial reports of the move by Chinese customs emerged on Dec. 2, said Vidmantas Janulevicius, president of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists, citing three members of the trade body.
“Chinese customs no longer lists Lithuania in its list of origin countries. So customs forms for cargoes from Lithuania cannot be filed,” he said.
The confederation, whose members account for half of Lithuania’s economy, will ask the government to file a complaint with World Trade Organization, to protest over barriers to trade, Janulevicius said.
The Chinese Office of the Charge d’Affairs in Vilnius did not comment on the report.
A European Commission spokesperson said on Friday it was in contact with Vilnius and with the EU delegation in Beijing to clarify the situation.
“We have been informed that the Lithuanian shipments are not being cleared through the Chinese customs and import applications are being rejected,” the spokesperson told a regular briefing. The Commission declined further comment.
Lithuania trades largely with European Union countries. The EU nation exported 300 million euros worth of goods to China in 2020, making it the 22nd largest destination for exports, according to government statistics.
While the Baltic state doesn’t have a formal diplomatic relationship with Taipei, it allowed the opening of a Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania on Nov. 18. Other Taiwanese offices in Europe and the United States use the name of the city Taipei, avoiding any reference to the island itself.
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry said in a Nov. 21 statement that the move created “an egregious precedent in the world,” adding the country “must bear all the ensuing consequences.”
In November, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Reuters during a visit to Washington that Beijing had cut trade links with the country and pressured third countries not to do business with Vilnius.
Lithuania is working to reduce its reliance on China and diversify its supply chains, Landsbergis said, saying the small EU nation is showing the world a model to withstand the Chinese regime’s pressure.
Dismissing Beijing’s warning, Lithuanian parliamentarians, along with lawmakers from Latvia and Estonia, are currently in Taipei to attend a democracy forum.
The Epoch Times contributed to this report.