China’s use of trade as a weapon in diplomatic disputes appears to be now targeted at Lithuania
, home to fewer than 3 million people, after the Baltic nation agreed to exchange diplomatic offices with Taiwan. But Beijing’s unofficial halt to its already limited trade with Lithuania is more about sending a warning to the rest of Europe, analysts have said. Lithuania and Taiwan
have agreed to establish mutual representative offices as a sign of deepening ties between the two governments. In response Beijing recalled its ambassador from Vilnius and expelled Lithuania’s from Beijing.
It has since suspended rail freight to Lithuania, according to Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry, and reportedly halted export permits for the country’s producers, including from the agriculture, animal husbandry, and timber industries.
The director of Lithuania’s state food and veterinary services, Mantas Staskevicius, told the Baltic Times
on Sunday that discussions with China about export permits for some items had been getting more difficult since the beginning of the year but they had now just stopped audit and certification processes, without explanation.