A week before it hosts the NATO summit, the tiny Baltic state of Lithuania has published a new Indo-Pacific strategy that highlights the need to engage with the Indo-Pacific region for a secure, resilient and prosperous future.
A recent target of China’s economic coercion due to its deepening engagement with Taiwan, Lithuania now stands out among European countries for its exceptionally hawkish stance toward Beijing.
“Unsuccessful attempts by China to exert economic and diplomatic pressure on Lithuania proves that a country can withstand economic blackmail if it has built up societal resilience and has reliable partners,” the document said. “Lithuanian experience in its relations with China allows us to share lessons learned in resisting pressure with the countries in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.”
China and Lithuania established diplomatic relations in 1991, and Beijing opened an embassy in the capital of Vilnius the next year. But relations soured in the summer of 2021 when Taiwan opened a de facto embassy in Vilnius, called The Taiwanese Representative Office. It was the first such office in Europe to use the name “Taiwan,” as opposed to the more common “Taipei”.
Later that year, Lithuania opened an office in Taipei, further angering China. Beijing recalled its ambassador, downgraded diplomatic relations to the level of charge d’affaires and implemented export embargoes to punish the Baltic country.
European countries such as Germany, France, the U.K., the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have released their own Indo-Pacific strategies, as has the European Union. All have emphasized the need to deepen engagement in the strategically crucial region, but Lithuania stands out in the uncommonly strong language it uses regarding Beijing.
Earlier this year, Lithuania stationed Margiris Abukevicius, a former deputy defense minister, in Tokyo as a defense adviser to its embassy and its Ministry of Defense representative for the Indo-Pacific, to strengthen security engagement with Japan and other like-minded countries in the region.