Last year, China entered into a spat with Lithuania over Vilnius allowing Taipei to open a de facto embassy using the name “Taiwan.” Beijing recalled its ambassadors from Lithuania and downgraded its diplomatic ties with the Baltic state to the “charge d’affaires” level.
In hindsight, China should realize that this move handed Lithuania on a plate to Taiwan.
China used its economic leverage as punishment. First, it tried to pressure German industry giant Continental AG to stop using Lithuanian-made components. When an EU trade commissioner said that Chinese customs were refusing to clear goods containing Lithuanian parts, China denied it was at fault, but it was too late; it had crossed the EU’s red line in adopting unfair trade measures.
China, which has been using its economic clout to bully others, underestimated Lithuania. What started as a diplomatic dispute evolved into an issue that concerns “safeguarding the European single market from attack.”
France, which has assumed the EU presidency, was keen to deploy anti-coercion trade measures. German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock said that the EU would stand in solidarity against China’s threats, while the US has voiced its support for Vilnius.
China then tried to stir up antagonistic sentiment between Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte. The president had expressed his annoyance that he was not consulted on the name for the Taiwanese representative office.
To China’s grave disappointment, Nauseda was just expressing affronted feelings for the undermining of his authority on foreign relations, while Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis reiterated his support for Taiwan.
In an interview in November last year, Lithuanian Member of Parliament Matas Maldeikis, chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Relations with Taiwan, said that the dispute between Nauseda and Simonyte is routine political rivalry in a democratic country.
Beijing’s inclination to take advantage of its trading partners has deteriorated relations with major countries and blocs. The EU, the US and NATO nations’ backing of Lithuania is not just about defending an ally, it is about teaching China a lesson.
The European Parliament is to continue supporting Taiwan by voting on two foreign policy reviews next month. The Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defence Policy are said to include pro-Taiwan recommendations and are expected to pass.
Calling Taiwan by its name is not only an act of justice, but a necessity. Now that the EU is aligning with the US to rein in China, Taiwan is an indispensable ally in the anti-China coalition.
What of the name the Republic of China (ROC)? Because of China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan, it has only been able to participate in international activities under alternative names and pseudonyms.
Even though the political situation has changed, there remains a minority of Taiwanese who would like to keep the ROC name. However, if the name has not worked its magic in diplomatic affairs in the past, it would only create further confusion now.
The advocates of the ROC name can freely express their views in private, but in the realm of diplomatic affairs, the government should push for a Taiwanese agenda by using the name Taiwan.
Taiwan’s ability to use its actual name on the international stage should be a given.
Tommy Lin is director of Wu Fu Eye Clinic and president of the Formosa Republican Association.
Translated by Rita Wang
As the Soviet Union was collapsing in the late 1980s and Russia seemed to be starting the process of democratization, 36-year-old US academic Francis Fukuyama had the audacity to assert that the world was at the “end of history.” Fukuyama claimed that democratic systems would become the norm, and peace would prevail the world over. He published a grandiose essay, “The End of History?” in the summer 1989 edition of the journal National Interest. Overnight, Fukuyama became a famous theorist in the US, western Europe, Japan and even Taiwan. Did the collapse of the Soviet Union mark the end of an era as
During a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday, US President Joe Biden for the third time intimated that the US would take direct military action to defend Taiwan should China attack. Responding to a question from a reporter — Would Washington be willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan? — Biden replied with an unequivocal “Yes.” As per Biden’s previous deviations from the script of the US’ longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” — maintaining a deliberately nebulous position over whether the US would intervene militarily in the event of a conflagration between Taiwan and
Will the US come to the defense of Taiwan if and when China makes its move? Like most friends of Taiwan, I’ve been saying “yes” for a couple decades. But the truth is that none of us, in or out of government, really know. This is precisely why we all need to show humility in our advice on how Taiwan should prepare itself for such an eventuality. After all, it’s their country, and they have no choice but to live with the consequences. A couple weeks ago the New York Times published an article that put this reality in stark relief. As
US President Joe Biden has done it again — for the third time in the past nine months he has stated that the US will defend Taiwan. And for the third time, his administration officials have rushed to “clarify” that US policy toward Taiwan “has not changed” and Washington still follows its “one China policy.” That is the same scenario that played out with two other presidents. When asked the question posed to Biden in 2001, then-US president George W. Bush said Washington would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. In 2020, then-US president Donald Trump