10/12/2021, 14.50
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Thorny issues of Taipei and Lithuania test EU-China ties

On October 15, Xi Jinping and the President of the European Council Charles Michel will have a telephone conversation. The aim is to reduce tensions. Punished by the Chinese for its growing relations with Taiwan, Vilnius calls for united EU intervention. Lithuanian MP: We are not like them, we must not respond with symmetrical retaliations or coercive measures.



Taipei (AsiaNews) - Taiwan is an increasingly thorny issue in relations between China and the European Union. It will most likely be a topic of discussion in the October 15 phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Council President Charles Michel. Tension between Beijing and Europe escalated after the Chinese took coercive measures against Lithuania, with Vilnius calling for a tougher common EU approach to China. 

On August 10, Beijing recalled its ambassador to Vilnius in protest against the Lithuanian government's decision to allow the Taiwanese government to open a representative office under the name "Taiwan". As pointed out to AsiaNews by Lithuanian MP Matas Maldeikis, even without an official indication from their government, Chinese railway operators are not organizing freight trains to Lithuania; only transit trains from China pass through the territory of the Baltic Republic.

For the Chinese Communist Party, Taipei is a "rebel" province to be reunified by force if necessary. After the recent massive Chinese air raids near the island, yesterday Beijing's troops simulated landing and attack operations in Fujian, the coastal province facing Taiwan. Last October 6, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said that China will be able to launch a "large-scale" attack on the island by 2025.

Yesterday, in video link with the Forum 2000 Conference, Tsai Ing-wen again asked for the conclusion of a bilateral agreement on investments between her country and the EU. The Taiwanese president believes that Taiwan can become an indispensable partner for Europe in key sectors such as biotechnology, renewable energy, data protection, ocean conservation and above all microchips.

To avoid upsetting Beijing, the EU seems unwilling to sign a far-reaching trade pact with Taipei. Despite this, Sino-European frictions continue to multiply. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has condemned  a French parliamentary delegation's visit to Taiwan, which ended on October 10. Beijing reiterated that the island is an "inalienable" part of China and that the transalpine delegation leader, Senator Alain Richard, is either ignoring the rules of international law or wants to "sabotage" Franco-Chinese relations for personal purposes.

Richard has visited Taiwan several times. In February, when news of his visit to Taipei emerged, Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye wrote him a letter intimating that he should abandon his aims.

Maldeikis, head of the Vilnius Parliament's Friendship Group with Taiwan, will lead a Lithuanian delegation that will visit Taipei in the first half of December. Asked whether the EU should respond to China's coercive acts with symmetrical trade measures, Maldeikis says they would be counterproductive: "We are not like them and we cannot sacrifice people and businesses." According to the Lithuanian politician, Europe must confront Beijing by cooperating with those who play by the rules, diversifying supply chains and finding alternative markets to the Chinese one.

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