Members of the European Parliament have extended support to Lithuania after it announced that it would enhance ties with Taiwan despite threats from China. In an open letter, more than 60 members of the EU's legislative branch from 20 countries and five political groups expressed their solidarity with the growing alliance highlighting that Taiwan had a pivotal role to play in the international community, according to Focus Taiwan. It is worth mentioning that both Beijing and Vilnius have been trading barbs not only over Taiwan but also other issues like China’s 17+ 1 project in Europe.
“The EU must continue to reiterate the right of all its Member States to conduct their economical, cultural and diplomatic relations with Taiwan as they see fit, and to do so free from threats and intimidation by the Chinese government. Taiwan has a vital role to play in the international community.”
Previously in August, Lithuania’s vice foreign minister Mantas Adomenas told CNA that his country will open a representative office in Taipei by the end of 2021 and send a vice-ministerial level official to the opening ceremony. Earlier, Taiwan has also announced that it would set up a “The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania” in Vilnius. However, China blatantly slammed the move and recalled its ambassador from Vilnius. In addition, it also expelled Lithuania’s envoy from Beijing and slapped retaliatory sanctions on the EU member.
"With this letter, we want to assure our Lithuanian friends that we will not stop to work for broad EU solidarity vis-à-vis the Chinese government's punitive measures against them. Europe must stand united and defend our shared values,” said one of the members Reinhard Bütikofer calling for the EU to slap economic sanctions on China.
In May, Lithuania said that it was quitting the Chinese led 17+1 grouping and asked other European countries to quit it as well. In an email written to POLITICO, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis asserted that there was “no such thing as 17+1 anymore” adding that his country was out of it for “practical purpose”. Accusing the “16+ 1” project of diving the bloc, he said that it was “high time” for European Union (EU) to shift to a “more uniting” and “efficient” 27+1 format.