Artwork: Liu Rui/GT
Reuters quoted sources as saying on Wednesday that Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis had recently proposed to President Gitanas Nauseda to change “the Chinese version of the representation’s name to refer to ‘Taiwanese people’ rather than Taiwan”, in the purpose of “defusing an argument”. with China.” This is not the first time that Lithuania has hinted at changing the name of the “Taiwanese representative office” in Vilnius. The Financial Times recently reported a similar story. Although all parties have hastily denied it, the outside world is increasingly inclined to believe that relevant discussions are taking place within the Lithuanian government.
It is very likely that Lithuania deliberately floated a trial balloon, playing the literal trick of taking two steps forward, one step back, to test China’s willingness to accept the new name, and at the same time to win international sympathy: “Listen, I’m going to change my name, but China keeps going after me.” However, it should be pointed out that this is a political performance that offers the same old stuff with only a different label. Its essence is still to create “one China, one Taiwan” on the world stage. This inferior cover-up cannot fool anyone. Lithuania should abandon the illusion that it could pull through.
Obviously, the situation has become increasingly unfavorable for the Lithuanian authorities. He previously relied on Washington’s approval to play a political scoundrel who blackmails a big power as a small country, and also tried to drag the EU into the deal. Lithuania’s population and GDP is less than 1% of the EU, but it wanted to kidnap the interests of the whole EU. This is almost insane geopolitical madness. Not only is there a huge wave of opposition in Lithuania, but citizens from other EU countries have expressed their displeasure. The German business community has repeatedly warned Lithuania to stop manipulating the Taiwan issue. So far, Lithuania has not benefited much, but has paid a heavy price, and they are feeling more and more pressure.
If Vilnius is serious about easing tensions with Beijing and stopping its losses in time, it must take sincere and practical steps, covering its previous provocations with clear change. We believe that it should at least do the following: first, ensure that the name, activities, nature and methods of the representative office named after the “Taiwanese” revert to those who registered in the framework of Lithuania’s commitments when establishing diplomatic relations with China. Second, Vilnius should publicly apologize to China for its past mistakes, declaring its ties with Taiwan as non-governmental. Third, Lithuania must reaffirm the one-China principle and ensure that it will never credibly challenge this policy line. Fourthly, Vilnius must take concrete measures to eliminate the malicious impact on the EU and the international community.
The question of principle is not negotiable. If the Lithuanian authorities do not completely correct their mistakes, no matter how many trial balloons they launch, it will only worsen Sino-Lithuanian relations.
The calculation of Washington and Vilnius, who are trying to induce other small countries to follow and spread “One China, One Taiwan”, has failed. At the instigation of the United States, this country, which has nothing to do with cross-Strait affairs, has thrown itself into a giant whirlwind of its own making. And the consequences he endured become a lesson for other countries. The Lithuanian authorities must be aware that they intend to play an “exemplary” role within the international community, but will ultimately only serve as a “typical case” for China to increase its prestige with the international community.
Ironically, whenever Lithuania would consider changing the name of the “Taiwanese Representative Office”, the authority of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the US State Department are among the first to refute it. The DPP authority is even more anxious, showing its guilty conscience and unease, lest Lithuania change its position. In the future, they may continue to openly and covertly deceive Lithuania into being their pawn. However, no matter what tricks they play, China will never back down on matters of principle. We have never compromised in the face of a superpower like the United States, how could we accept Lithuania’s political fraud, a “weather vane”?
The farce created by the Lithuanian authorities will finally prove to the international community that the one-China principle is an impassable red line. Not everyone, be it Vilnius, Taipei or Washington, can be expected to dance on the line.