Global legislators urge support for Lithuania, Taiwan amid China pressure

09/13/2021 04:56 PM
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Image from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China Twitter page.
Image from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China Twitter page.

London, Sept. 13 (CNA) Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) have launched a global call for solidarity with Lithuania and Taiwan as they withstand intense pressure from the Chinese government.

Established on June 4, 2020, IPAC is an international cross-party coalition of over 100 parliamentarians from the world's democratic legislatures who are focused on creating a coordinated response to stand up to China on global security, human rights and trade issues.

In a video statement released on Monday via Twitter, IPAC members appealed to the democratic states of the world to stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Lithuania, asking them to be aware of China's retaliatory tactics against countries such as Lithuania and Taiwan.

The statement came as Lithuania is facing retribution from China for backing out of the "Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (17+1)" initiative, calling out human rights abuse in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and allowing Taiwan to set up its representative office in Vilnius bearing the name of "Taiwan" rather than "Taipei."

The office, to be named "Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania," would be the first of Taiwan's foreign missions in Europe to be called Taiwanese.

To avoid debates over sovereignty with China, countries with which Taiwan does not have diplomatic relations tend to call Taiwan's de facto embassies in their jurisdiction the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office" or "Taipei Representative Office."

Lithuania's decision therefore angered China, which has launched various reprisals against the country, such as recalling its ambassador from Vilnius and expelling Lithuania's ambassador from Beijing.

China has also introduced various trade sanctions, like the halting of direct freight train services to the Baltic state in retribution.

"The Chinese Government is carrying out a campaign of threats and intimidation against the Lithuanian people," said Dovilė Šakalienė in the video that features IPAC members from 12 legislatures across Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

Šakalienė is IPAC's Lithuanian member of parliament, and also one of the many IPAC members to have been targeted by Chinese retaliation in recent months.

"Once again, the Chinese government is using its economic might to coerce smaller states into acquiescence," Swedish politician Elisabet Lann added in the video.

Echoing Lann's statement, Senator André Gattolin of France said: "We commend the courage of the Lithuanian and Taiwanese people and we call for democratic states everywhere to take a united stand against Beijing's coercive diplomacy."

Previously, IPAC has initiated movements encouraging governments to back Taiwan's inclusion at the World Health Assembly, and voiced their support for Australian wine producers who were hit by trade sanctions from China.

(By Chen Yun-yu and James Lo)

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