After Lithuania agreed to allow Taiwan to open a representative in Vilnius under the name Taiwan, there has been much speculation about the direction the relationship will proceed. Now, Lithuania has applied to open a representative office in Taiwan, perhaps signaling that they plan to continue to work with Taiwan, a fellow democracy, as authoritarian powers ramp up their belligerence around the globe.
Along with their plans to open their own representative office in Taipei, Lithuania is also currently working on their foreign policy plan, to be released sometime in May. This will likely include their plans for relations going forward with Taiwan. Statements from representatives in both countries have been strongly in favor of future cooperation, seeming to quash worries some had that economic pressure from Beijing might throw a wet blanket on relations.
While some of this worry began to dissipate when Taiwan stepped up to buy goods from Lithuania that China had turned away at port, the increasingly hostile rhetoric out of China and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, seemed to have only strengthened many democratic countries’ resolves to work together.
Baltic nations like Lithuania, and many other buffer states between NATO countries and Russia, have long been warning about Putin’s government. Now that they have had their fears confirmed, many are attempting to ensure strong bonds between democratic allies. This is likewise compounded by threats from China against Taiwan and other, as well as issues experienced during the ongoing COVID pandemic related to trade and supply chains.
This shift could push more countries to improve relations with Taiwan, and with the aforementioned buffer states in Europe, some of which have already started signaling their desire to join organizations like the EU and NATO. This growing solidarity is not likely to result in countries recognizing Taiwan outright, however it could mean a continued boost for Taiwan’s economy with expanded trade and, more importantly, could signal to the CPP that if they do go through with the violent invasion that they have been threatening in Taiwan, they will face even more severe backlash than Russia has. This backlash will certainly come in the form of sanctions, but with the world horrified by the violence Russia is meting out in Ukraine, it could involve increased weapon sales to Taiwan.
Hopefully democratic countries can continue to come together and oppose senseless violence and authoritarian rule wherever it arises in the world. It certainly won’t be an easy road, however it is the best thing for the world. We can also hope that just maybe Lithuania could do for Taiwan what Iceland did for them 3 decades ago.