More than 40 MEPs call on EU leaders to take joint action on China’s economic and political coercion against Lithuania

European Parliament
European Parliament Reuters/Scanpix

On Tuesday, more than 40 MEPs from various groups addressed the leaders of the European Union – EC President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel, High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell – and the European Commissioners on the political and economic coercion of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against Lithuania. They urged the EU to take concerted action.

The signatories include MEPs from Slovakia, Germany, France, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungary and other countries.

” The aggressive rhetoric of PRC officials, as well as the unexplained and undeclared measures which de facto constitute sanctions that ban Lithuanian-made products from entering the Chinese market are deplorable. Such unlegislated actions and practices violate not only all international and WTO rules of trade, but also directly impact underlying principles of the EU Single Market, and that is why they must be addressed by the European Union jointly.

EPP Lithuanian office
EPP Lithuanian Office

Moreover, this is not the first time the PRC has been using coercive behaviour against the EU Member State, as demonstrated by the pressure applied on the President of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, in connection to his visit to Taiwan, and numerous cases before.

The MEPs state in their appeal that ‘We refuse any form of pressure and condemn threats regarding the independent right of countries to develop a relationship with Taiwan in line with their national interests and shared values of democracy and human rights without foreign interference.

The recent decision of Lithuania and Taiwan to exchange representative offices do not themselves signify anything extraordinary, nor do they challenge the One China policy,” the MPs write.

The appeal recalls that ‘in the European Parliament Recommendation of 21 October 2021 on EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation, the European Parliament urged to “encourage increased economic, scientific, cultural, political and people-to-people exchanges, meetings and cooperation between the EU and Taiwan, and exchanges with the participation of Member State representatives, including at the most senior levels, so as to fully reflect the dynamic, multi-faceted and close cooperation between the EU and Taiwan as like-minded partners.”

The European Parliament “welcomes the plans to establish a Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania; to condemn the reaction of the Chinese government to impose economic sanctions on Lithuania; to express its support and solidarity with Lithuania in this matter, to take appropriate measures and to urge the Council to do the same.”

The MEPs also stress that ” these unexplained coercive measures of the PRC against Lithuania and the EU are taking place in a context of increasing PRC aggression against neighbours and other third countries, disregard for international law and norms as witnessed in the destabilizing actions in the South China Sea and breaching of the Sino-British Declaration, as well as the dire human rights situation across mainland China and Hong Kong.”

MEPs are “firmly convinced that failing to respond to the PRC’s actions would embolden it to engage in further coercion against Lithuania or any other EU Member States in the future “.

This, they argue, “will also allow PRC to weaken EU unity and intensify “divide and rule” practices among the EU Member States as well as seek to diminish the EU’s role globally. Therefore, if the PRC will continue its coercive measures damaging the EU Single Market, the EU should consider responding with defensive measures vis-a-vis the PRC”.

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