Despite Beijing's ire, Baltic lawmakers bet on Taiwan
Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) Head of the Lithuanian parliament's Taiwan friendship group Matas Maldeikis is keen to stress that the choice between solidarity with Taipei's democratic government or economic gains with China is a false dichotomy.
"If you have a country with no rule of law, your business is always like in the casino," is the lawmaker's take on China's decision to sanction Lithuania, after Vilnius allowed a new representative office to use the word "Taiwanese" in its name.
Speaking with CNA in Taipei Friday, Maldeikis warned that staking the future on regimes with little regard for rules and regulations ran the constant risk of businesses being sanctioned for political reasons.
"You will always have a threat from authoritarianism. What China is doing now, is exactly what we are talking about."
Maldeikis is one of several lawmakers from the Baltic states currently in Taipei as part of a visiting European delegation.
The delegation, which arrived on Nov. 28 and will depart Sunday, took part in the two-day "Open Parliament in a Post-COVID Context: Global Examples of Resilience and Planning for 2022 and Beyond" forum in Taipei on Thursday and Friday.
Explaining Vilnius' decision to continue supporting Taiwan, Maldeikis is steadfast that China's punitive actions will never force Vilnius into abandoning its principles. "It's about trying to change our inside politics and losing our serenity. We won't back down."
Even though China has placed sanctions on Lithuanian products, Maldeikis said his country was prepared, stating that it would deal with the issue by looking after local businesses with a government-backed fund.
The Lithuanian lawmaker also believes attitudes are shifting in the European Union toward recognizing Taiwan's strategic importance on security, business, and supply chain issues.
He is of the opinion that unity and forging stronger ties with Taiwan will help his country through this current period of Chinese sanctions. "The messages from Taiwan would really help, seeing you guys are also hearing what we are dealing with and just to know you hear us, that would be real nice."
"You are fighting for a good cause, you are fighting communists, which we also really like to fight as Baltic states … we know the history and it's about our feeling for justice in the world," Maldeikis said, expressing a sentiment that is shared by his peers in neighboring Baltic countries.
Estonian lawmaker Jüri Jaanson, chairman of the Estonia-Taiwan parliamentary group, said his country favors peaceful relations and negotiations between China and Taiwan.
But Jaanson, who was also in Taipei for this week's forum, insists that if Beijing attempts to take the island by force "of course I hope my government will join the rest of the countries to defend Taiwan," emphasizing that Estonia would continue to support "democracy and self-determination" for the people of Taiwan.
Another member of the delegation, Janis Vucans, who is chairman of the Latvian parliament's Group for the Support of Taiwan, said the number of delegates from the EU at the forum was a testament to growing ties between the region and Taiwan.
"If you start to count how many countries participated from Europe, it is a big amount and it means that at least the politicians in those countries are supporting EU ties with Taiwan," Vucans said.
The Baltic states had built up their economy in the 30 or so years since independence from the USSR on the principles of an open market economy.
For Vucans, trust between partners is essential for such a system to succeed. "Our society is very homogeneous, so we don't like threats from anybody, because we have lived in such authoritarian regime during the Soviet period and we know how it is," Vucans said.
He added that his country wished to adhere to the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. "We need to look for solutions to go to other markets and live with good relations with everybody in the world, but based on our principles -- not on some other's principles."
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