Lithuania has expressed doubts on its “17+1” membership after it announced plans to open a Taiwan trade office.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Economy and Innovation said that the trade office would strengthen and diversify economic diplomacy in the Asian region.
The “17+1” is an informal trade group of China and 17 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Lithuania gets almost no benefits from the group but has not announced any decision to leave.
“I am not saying that we are leaving and it’s the end, but we should really consider what is the useful way of building a relationship with China,” said Landsbergis.
In response to the Taiwanese trade office plans, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that Lithuania should “refuse to be taken advantage of by Taiwan separatist forces and avoid doing anything detrimental to bilateral political mutual trust.”
The move was reportedly also in line with Lithuania’s coalition government resolution last year that it would actively oppose human rights violations and support democratic freedoms worldwide “from Belarus to Taiwan.”
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