Lithuania, main Baltic ally of the United States, stands firm with Taiwan
During his visit to Washington at the end of November, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis underline that “Lithuania’s biggest lesson is that economic coercion does not necessarily mean that the country has to move away from independent foreign policy decisions”.
“You will probably be threatened. You will be yelled at in the Chinese media headlines, but nonetheless, you can resist it, ”he added. “I must say that the only weakness of democracies is that they cannot help each other.”
Indeed, Lithuania has charted a new, revised course in terms of its relationship with China. Few nations have dared challenge china just like Lithuania, one of the smallest countries in the European Union, but which exceeds its weight.
In May, Lithuania abandoned the so-called “17 + 1” platform, a ten-year-old Beijing initiative through which China has sought to exert diplomatic and economic influence over the countries of central and eastern Europe.
Landsbergis was clear that “there is no more ’17 +1 ‘, because for practical purposes Lithuania is absent,” urging other EU countries to follow suit.
It should also be noted that in September, after an investigation by the Lithuanian government revealed personal data security risks, the Baltic country advised its citizens to throw away their Chinese smartphones as soon as possible.
More recently, going one step further than the United States, Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital, Vilnius, under the official name of the Taiwanese Representative Office.
It is perhaps not all that surprising that these concrete actions by Lithuania angered Beijing in a fairly measurable way, leading China to downgrade its diplomatic and economic relations with the country, one of the main allies of the United States in the the Baltic States.
Lithuania is firmly committed to the values of free market democracy, and it is imperative for Washington to show the strongest possible support for its Baltic ally.
The Baltic nation has been an important partner of the United States, an effective defender of political freedom, a strong supporter of NATO and a committed investor in defense capabilities.
Economically, although uncertainty persists, the Lithuanian economy has benefited from its high degree of resilience accumulated over the past 25 years.
According to the Heritage Foundation’s annual Economic Freedom Index, which compares entrepreneurial executives from countries around the world, Lithuania’s economic freedom score has increased significantly over time and is now well above regional averages and global.
Lithuania’s ongoing transition from a former Soviet satellite state to a more dynamic and market-oriented economy has been facilitated by openness to foreign trade and effective trade regulations that foster entrepreneurial dynamism. It should also be noted that Lithuania is a partner of the United States as part of the Three Seas Initiative, which was launched in 2016 to facilitate increased development and connectivity between 12 European Union countries around and between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic Seas.
From a broader geopolitical perspective, known opponents of free market democracies, such as China and Russia, will seek to separate the United States from its like-minded allies and sow division through disinformation, and exacerbate uncertainty.
They should not be allowed to do this.
History reminds us that allies and partners are essential to defeating enemies and winning any world battle. In fact, the value of democratic alliances must be most evident and welcome in an age of increasing testing, especially as US policymakers and other like-minded partners around the world focus on the challenges. China pose more than ever.
The coming months are the time for Washington and its transatlantic partners like Lithuania to remain strong and unwavering and prepare for a new era of cooperation facing challenges.
This piece originally appeared in The daily signal