World Biden should extend a state visit invitation to Lithuania
China reduces ties with Lithuania in Taiwan spat
BEIJING (AP) — China reduced the level of its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to below ambassador level Sunday in retaliation for the Baltic nation allowing Taiwan, the island democracy claimed by Beijing as part of its territory, to open a representative office. China earlier expelled the Lithuanian ambassador, reflecting its intense sensitivity over the status of Taiwan, which Beijing says has no right to conduct foreign affairs. China also withdrew its own ambassador from Lithuania. The foreign ministry said relations would be downgraded to the level of charge d’affaires, an embassy’s No. 2 official.
President Joe Biden should extend the invitation of a state visit to President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania.
The highest diplomatic honor, this state visit would send a clear message to Lithuania and the world — namely, the message that the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with reliable allies and remains committed to the principle of human freedom. Both concerns bear particular relevance with regard to Lithuania.
A small nation of fewer than 3 million people, Lithuania is one of the Baltic States and borders Poland and Latvia. But Lithuania, a European Union and NATO member, also borders the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, effectively a Russian super fortress, and Belarus. Now an overt puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In turn, Belarus would almost certainly fight alongside Russian forces in the event of a major conflict with NATO. Geography puts Lithuania at risk of by Russian forces during war.
Taiwan. China limits its diplomatic links with Lithuania
© Petras Malukas / AFP The Nominative Plaque of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, Vilnius, November 18, 2021. China does not appreciate that Lithuania welcomes a Taiwan representation office and sanctions the country by retrograpping its diplomatic relations.
But unlike many other NATO members (Germany,), Lithuania doesn't respond to external aggression with appeasement. Instead, Vilnius stands firm in its values and sovereignty. Lithuania has more than doubled defense spending in real terms since 2014, and it now exceeds the NATO defense spending target of 2% of GDP. Lithuanian forces also regularly deploy on forward posture operations.
Today, however, Lithuania doesn't simply face a threat from Russia. It is confronted by the authoritarian behemoth of Communist China. With a population 466 times larger than that of Lithuania, Xi Jinping's regime believes it can coerce this small nation into doing its bidding. Infuriated by recent Lithuanian steps to bolster links with democratic Taiwan, China has resorted to escalating abuse. It has restricted trade, downgraded relations, and. Hu Xijin, one of Beijing's top propagandists, has warned that Lithuania "will eventually pay the price for its evil deed. ... Lithuania is a crazy, tiny country full of geopolitical fears. It is extremely afraid that if one day something significant happens, it will be destroyed again."
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These threats to Lithuania demand Biden's greater attention.
Biden has pledged that alliances will be the foreign policy centerpiece of his administration. Well, there are few better U.S. allies than Lithuania. But the need for public U.S. support is real. Rising cooperationpresents their shared interest in exerting pressure on Lithuania. And Lithuania's relative economic power means that it is more vulnerable than other NATO powers.
Unfortunately, while Beijing is using its intimidation of Lithuania to test whether the EU will offer aagainst it, the EU is yet to provide Lithuania with determined support. Even as China's " " leaves the helm of Europe's most powerful economy, the EU is unlikely to stand with its Lithuanian member.
Biden extending a state visit would thus provide a powerful symbol of U.S. commitment. It would show that the U.S. values small allies as well as big ones — and that where U.S. allies have shown commitment to U.S. interests and values, they will find reciprocity. A state visit would send an unmistakable message to Moscow and Beijing: If you come for Lithuania, you're coming for America, too.
China downgrades ties with Lithuania over Taiwan
Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its country, a move which has angered China.Lithuania defended its right to have ties with Taiwan, but said it respected the "One China" policy.
That's what Lithuania might call a force multiplier.
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