Slovenia urges EU to stand with Lithuania against Chinese pressure

Photo: EPA Janez Jansa

The EU must stand with Lithuania against Chinese pressure and not give in to trade threats, Slovenia's PM said in a letter to fellow EU leaders, according to a copy seen by Reuters. China's decision to withdraw its ambassador to Lithuania over a dispute about Taiwan was "reprehensible" and would hurt EU-China ties, according to Janez Jansa.

"We will be able to face China successfully only with a united, coherent and common approach. We must stand by every EU member state that is facing pressure," he wrote. In his letter, Jansa said Taiwan "remains our important partner. This should not be denied".

Lithuania and Taiwan this year opened reciprocal representative offices in a sign of deepening relations. China considers fiercely democratic, self-ruled Taiwan part of "one China", to be united with the mainland eventually, and is regularly angered by any moves which suggest the island is a separate country. Beijing recalled its ambassador from Vilnius and expelled Lithuania's from Beijing. Lithuania recalled its ambassador in Beijing for consultations. Lithuanian officials have also said that China has begun making trade with the Baltic state more difficult, stopping the approval of permits for food exports to China.

EU leaders are due to discuss their approach to China, the EU's second-largest trading partner, at a summit dinner in Slovenia on 5 October, in a bind at what approach to take with a relationship that is becoming increasingly contentious. EU diplomats in Brussels say China is seeking to divide the 27 countries to increase its influence and weaken its power in trade, business and politics. China denies any wrongdoing.

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