An official representative office of Taiwan has opened in Lithuania – and now everyone is waiting with interest to see what will happen to Lithuania. Vilnius went further than all small countries in a desire to anger Beijing, with which, it would seem, it has no reason to quarrel. Perhaps the historical mission of the Lithuanians is precisely to show the world how far China is ready to go in relation to its enemies.
“Lithuania is just a bug that is best crushed with your foot.” “This state is a pea jester, it is not surprising that it was wiped off the face of the earth by its neighbors again and again.” “An ugly little country that does not know the heights of the world and hates almost all its neighbors will sooner or later be destroyed.”
Such comments were left by the readers of the Huangqiu Shibao edition last spring under the article about Lithuania. In the Chinese political tradition, this is called “pido-huey” (untranslatable into Russian; something like a “session of struggle”) – a method of re-education, when the “deluded” are publicly humiliated and threatened with the aim of extorting repentance. Mao came up with this for the Red Guards and party cells, now the Chinese do not practice this offline, but online – with great pleasure.
Lithuania received its “pido-huey” for the fact that its Seim (parliament) adopted a resolution in which the practices of the PRC towards the Uighurs were called “genocide” and “a crime against human rights.” Under the same pretext, Vilnius announced its withdrawal from the “17 + 1” format, within which the countries of Central and Eastern Europe interacted with China. In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), there is no worse offense for a foreign government than to interfere in the policy pursued by Beijing in troubled territories with a dormant separatist threat – in Tibet, Hong Kong, Uyguristan. They try not to forgive this in Beijing.
In the programmatic article “Huangqiu Shibao” it was recommended to “block Lithuania completely”: to delete it from the Chinese vision of the world – and, therefore, from the Chinese business, since the entire business is under the supervision of the CCP. Much has been done since then (more on this below), but the Lithuanians did not heed and just a couple of months later stepped on the second sore callus of the CCP. Namely: we agreed with Taiwan on the exchange of official representations, which is not considered its recognition as a separate state, but a step in this direction.
Previously, political support for Taiwan, which mainland China considers its territory, was considered a less dire crime against the Chinese people than political support for the internal opposition. But after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the country’s reunification was the CCP’s historic mission, the burden of responsibility was roughly equal.
That is, the Lithuanians decided to double the anger of the Chinese dragon, although the PRC is a global power and an economic and political monster, and Taiwan (even if the average Lithuanian finds it on the map) is something developed, but small, to which it is inconvenient to fly far and swim. By this time, China practically stopped buying from Lithuania what it traded with: wood, fish and dairy products. And we had to completely forget about the relatively recent (2018-2019) plans to supply the PRC with meat produced in Lithuania.
In addition, China has removed Lithuania from its trade routes – just as Lithuanian ports in the Baltic are suffering huge losses due to a quarrel with Minsk, which has reoriented the transshipment of its export goods to Russian infrastructure nearby.
What will happen now, after the tinkering with Taipei, it is impossible to say for sure, but something will definitely happen. Chinese ministries and corporations will look for and identify all signs of cooperation with Lithuania in order to get rid of them. Chinese business is global, the bureaucratic apparatus is huge, so there is no need to doubt – they will find it.
From the outside, the behavior of the Lithuanians may seem like a manifestation of sheer idiocy. But if you look from the inside, it has its own, very special logic, which is dictated by the Lithuanian national identity. The fact is that the political class of this Baltic republic was formed under the yoke of a central idea: the Soviet “occupation” of 1939-1940 was the worst thing that could happen to the Lithuanian people, so the restored Lithuanian statehood should insure itself against a repetition of such a scenario.
The European powers did not help Lithuania in the period 1939-1940. So, in spite of the defining economic and political ties with Europe, Vilnius is oriented primarily towards the United States – rigidly, consistently and principally. These, they say, will protect. In the informal competition for America’s best friend in the EU, for similar and local reasons, other countries are also participating – Latvia, Poland, Romania . But in the Lithuanian case, the confirmation of loyalty took on an exaggerated character, since one of the most influential presidents in the country’s post-Soviet history, a prominent ideologist of its foreign policy, Valdas Adamskus, was an American citizen.
When a request for Russophobia was generated in Washington, the Lithuanians were happy. They are ready to produce such a “product” in any quantity, since it corresponds to their national feeling: there has never been and there is no country in the EU that is more anti-Russian than Lithuania.
At the same time, it was not taken into account that a quarrel with a neighboring state, which possesses such a significant market, is fraught with large losses for the Lithuanian economy.
When, under President Donald Trump, Washington made opposition to China the main principle of foreign policy, the Lithuanians joined this game too. And again they did not think about the economic consequences, as if one of the poorest and most problematic EU countries could afford a positional conflict with several global powers at once.
The Uyghur problem was chosen by the Americans as one of the main reasons for pressure on China, the Taiwan issue is a “red line” in Beijing’s aspirations (which, by the way, is not at all stupid – upon the return of Taiwan, China will significantly expand its maritime control zone, where important trade routes pass ). Vilnius volunteered to help out both there and there – and did not abandon his venture after Trump lost the election, since the Joe Biden administration is unexpected for many confirmed the course of confrontation with Beijing. Even the example of neighbors with similar historical traumas does not teach Lithuania anything. In the early 1990s, a representative office of Taiwan was opened by Latvia in order to play back just two years later under pressure from Beijing. Now, a quarter of a century later, China has become much stronger, richer, more influential, but at the same time nervous and suspicious, but the Lithuanians – the most drinking and suicidal nation in the EU – for some reason suppose against China.
If people want to exchange their opportunities for economic development for symbolic gestures of loyalty to America, let them do it. Apparently, inflated national pride prevents them from thinking about what role Lithuania actually claims in the system of the political West – the role of a military vanguard in the confrontation with the nuclear powers or the role of a prototype, the most useless crew member, or, better to say, a training manual. The one who is sent to the dragon in order to find out how evil and dangerous this dragon is.