After the outbreak of the Ukraine-Russia war, Lithuania was one of the first countries to support Ukraine. In recent years, Lithuania has become increasingly close to Taiwan. It not only supports Taiwan in diplomatic situations, but also exchanges information in political and economic aspects. What is Lithuania’s reason for supporting Taiwan? In addition to the banner of “democratic values”, there are actually thoughts and strategies for survival of small countries behind it. Corner International’s podcast[Editorial Insertion]connected columnist Huang Zhehan who visited Lithuania in September this year to share the annual conference activities held by the World Taiwanese Association in Lithuania and the experiences and observations gained from exchanges with local politicians.
▌Please listen to the link below:
▌The following is the post-interview supplement provided by the author Huang Zhehan to “Corner International”:
From September 7th to 12th, I flew to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, to attend the 2024 World Taiwan Congress Annual Meeting and the congressional visit and symposium after the meeting.
This annual meeting was co-organized by the World Federation of Taiwanese and European Taiwan Association and Black Bear College. There were more than 300 overseas Taiwanese from all over the world, as well as scholars, think tanks, NGOs, and politicians from Taiwan, the United States, and Europe. characters. The theme of the annual meeting is geopolitical challenges and war preparations between Taiwan and Eastern European democracies. .
As a member of the annual meeting preparation team and the host of the agenda, I had many thoughts after participating in the whole process, so when I chatted with Zhuanjiao editor Qihao, I was invited to record an editorial insert for a blockbuster broadcast.
Here are a few additional points that I didn’t talk about in this podcast episode or want to emphasize again:
(1) When I actually went to Lithuania this time, I felt firsthand how strong Lithuania’s willingness to be friendly to Taiwan was: two cabinet ministers and a former ambassador to NATO (himself an important figure in the Lithuanian restoration movement) personally participated in the annual meeting, The Vilnius City Government held a high-profile welcome party in the square in front of the city hall, and was invited to visit the National Assembly after the annual meeting and hold discussions with five members of Congress. This was the highest level and standard of reception received by the host country in the history of the annual meeting. The membership of the Taiwan Friendship Group of the National Congress is second only to the Friendship Group with the United States. The chairman of the Taiwan Friendship Group said that they did not care how China would react to this. He pointed at the vice chairman next to him and said: “Everyone is jealous of her. She has been taken over by China.” Being on the sanctions list, but I haven’t been sanctioned yet, it makes me feel like I did something wrong.”
(2) At the public welcome meeting of the Vilnius City Hall, the Lithuanian flag and the Taiwan flag were displayed against each other, and hundreds of Taiwanese and Lithuanians interacted enthusiastically. This scene made people feel magical and surreal. Not long after the buffet at the city government dinner started, Mr. Wu Rui was too tired to eat due to jet lag, so he came to me to chat. So his work partner Zoy helped call a taxi, and I accompanied Mr. Rui back to the hotel to rest. On the way, we talked about the scene of the welcome party, and we all felt it was a bit surreal, as if it had the flavor of “the alliance of small and weak ethnic groups in the cracks of the empire.”
(3) One of the key factors why Lithuania is so actively friendly to Taiwan is of course its historical experience of pursuing democracy and national restoration from 1980 to 1990, as well as the pressure it has been under from the Russian dictatorship in recent years, which has made Lithuanians hostile to Taiwanese. The situation can be sympathized with. But the reason why simple sympathy and common feeling can be turned into such concrete and positive actions to be friendly to Taiwan is because of another factor: Lithuania’s democracy and national restoration were not easy to come by, and they paid a bloody and economic price for it that is still vivid today. Therefore, we still have a sense of historical caution towards democratic constitutionalism. For them, democracy is the foundation for a nation to achieve freedom and maintain its way of life. In other words, the idea of democracy and self-identity are inseparable.
(4) In addition to the ideological factors of democratic ideals and self-identity, Lithuania’s friendship with Taiwan is based on a clear strategy: a small democratic country on the front line of aggression by a dictatorial power must actively cooperate with other countries with similar ideals. Therefore, Lithuania It has been actively playing the vanguard of democratic and human rights diplomacy on the international stage. Therefore, Li Guo has always been clear-cut in making geopolitical decisions. The chairman of the Taiwan Friendship Group said that long-term pain is worse than short-term pain. For example, in 2004, Li Guo did not hesitate to cut the knot with the Russian economy in order to join the EU and NATO. In 2019, it defined China as a security threat, clearly supported Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill, condemned the Xinjiang concentration camps, and actively supported Taiwan. Then it also withdrew from China’s “17+1” structure in 2021. In the face of China, they also adhere to the decision that long-term pain is worse than short-term pain, and after diversifying economic risks, they have proved that cooperation between democratic countries is feasible and there is no need to compromise and rely on authoritarian countries. The vice chairman of the Taiwan Friendship Group of the National Assembly summed it up this way: “Lithuania’s example proves that cooperation between democratic countries is feasible. Stand by your values and be true to your identity. If democratic countries do not unite and cooperate, they will lose more. Then not only With Taiwan’s semiconductors, we will also throw away the entire world order.”
(5) Lithuania, which is very active on the diplomatic stage, also has a clear view of global geopolitics and is the first country in the EU to formulate an Indo-Pacific strategy. The chairman of the Congress Foreign Affairs Committee assessed that the situation in Eastern Europe may lead to the next wave of democratic transformation due to the collapse of the Putin regime. Small countries under Russia’s sphere of influence may form alliances with foreign countries. Taiwan should be prepared for this change. China and India Similar changes may occur in the Pacific region. “We in Eastern Europe are the reflection of your future.” In this interconnected situation, Vilnius and Taipei should cooperate more closely. Faced with the authoritarian expansion of Russia and China, and the interlocking situation in the Baltic and Taiwan Straits, Lithuania’s active friendship with Taiwan is not only cooperation between countries with similar concepts, but also a layout to spread risks. For example, the Lithuanian Minister of Economic Innovation clearly stated that Taiwan is Lithuania’s industry and The authoritarian countries will be the gateway to Southeast Asia after decoupling. Similarly, Lithuania can also be the gateway to Taiwan’s layout in Central and Eastern Europe.
(6) When recording this podcast episode, No. 7 aptly described Lithuania as a “conflict of Eastern European democracies.” Lithuanians are indeed proud of this, as they claimed that they were the first to regain independence from the Soviet Union and were the number one pioneer in overthrowing the Soviet Union. Today, in the face of the aggression and expansion of China and Russia, it still plays the role of democratic and free conflict. For example, Lithuania is the most active in supporting Ukraine to join NATO. There are quite clear principles and pragmatic strategies behind such a conflicting personality. This is what impressed me very deeply during this trip to Lithuania.
(7) Regarding pragmatism, both Taiwan and Taiwan were very pragmatic during the parliamentary discussion this time and did not talk too much. On Taiwan’s side, Puma made a detailed inventory of China’s information warfare tactics and urgency in Taiwan and Eastern Europe. Rui Renshi clearly pointed out the dilemma of Taiwanese people’s ambiguous identity and insufficient defense consensus. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly also pointed out that although they are against China The strategy is a consensus in the political arena, but the people are not necessarily sure. The strategy may be overturned after the founding election next year (although the vice chairman of the Taiwan Friendship Group on the side immediately interjected and said that they will not let this happen). Both countries must be cautious.
(8) Regarding the matter of aiding Ukraine and resisting Russia, as the U.S. election approaches, variables begin to emerge. Several potential Republican candidates are skeptical or even opposed to aiding Ukraine. At present, the Republican Party still has a mainstream consensus on military aid to Ukraine. However, as the election campaign begins, it is expected that the aid to Ukraine policy will become bipolar. The chairman of the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee, who had served as the Republic of China’s ambassador to the United States, told us face to face: If the United States betrays Ukraine, Lithuania and Taiwan will be next. In this regard, he also called on Taiwan to help lobby the United States (FAPA personnel were also present). From the implication in his words, it seems that in addition to uniting with Taiwan’s democratic values and economic cooperation, Li Guo also wants to cooperate with Taiwan in diplomacy. We work together on lobbying. In addition, regarding aid to Ukraine, they pointed out that Ukraine is currently short of arms logistics and many components still have to be imported from China. Taiwan should work hard to see if it can supply Ukraine.
(9) In any case, compared to Lithuania, which has an Indo-Pacific strategy, Taiwan is not strictly a “small country”, but at least a medium-sized country that occupies an important position in geopolitics and geo-economics. Taiwan seems to have to think of a solution. A clear strategy for Eastern Europe and even Europe. In the European Union, we can’t move the big countries with heavy burdens such as Germany and France for the time being, but we can still move forward with Eastern European democracies such as the three Bolan countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia, and the Netherlands, which has profound economic and trade exchanges with Taiwan. There’s a lot to expand on. Taiwanese people do not need to belittle themselves, and they should not always argue about trivial matters behind closed doors. This time I went to Lithuania and saw such a small country with active and pragmatic democratic conflicts. It also opened my eyes to Eastern Europe. My original understanding of this came mostly from Timothy Snyder’s discussions. After a short visit, those discussions suddenly became clear. , Taiwanese people should be able to learn a lot from this.
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