China targets Lithuania, urging automaker to wipe out pro-Taiwan country
China has urged auto parts giant Continental to stop using Lithuanian-made components as it ramps up pressure on multinationals to sever ties with the Baltic state over a dispute over Taiwan’s status, sources said.
The Chinese government, which regards Taiwan as its territory, downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania last month after opening a Taiwan representative office in Vilnius. The ruling Lithuanian coalition also agreed last year to support what it described as “those who struggle for freedom” on the island.
Earlier this month, a senior government official and industry body said China had asked multinationals to cut ties with Lithuania or face being shut out of the Chinese market.
Continental, one of the largest auto parts manufacturers in the world, has production facilities in Lithuania, manufacturing electronic parts such as controllers for vehicle doors and seats, and exports to customers all over the world including China. .
Continental declined to say whether the Chinese government had asked it to sever ties with Lithuania, as two people familiar with the matter said. Reuters.
China’s Foreign Ministry has denied that Beijing has pressured multinational companies not to use parts produced in Lithuania, while saying its companies no longer trust Lithuania.
“The ‘one China, one Taiwan’ practice grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs and gravely violates China’s fundamental interests,” a spokesperson added.
China has pressured countries to degrade or sever relations with democratically ruled Taiwan.
“I have heard that many Chinese companies no longer see Lithuania as a trustworthy partner,” the spokesperson said. “Lithuania must ask itself why Lithuanian companies are facing difficulties in trade and economic cooperation in China.”
Lithuania’s direct trade with China is modest, but its export-based economy is home to hundreds of companies that manufacture products such as furniture, lasers, food, and clothing for multinationals that sell in China.
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said, “Companies operating in Lithuania have successfully integrated into international supply chains, so China’s economic pressure measures can cause various disruptions for companies operating in Lithuania.
“We are closely monitoring, analyzing and evaluating each of these cases, including among these German companies,” the spokesperson said, adding that he “was looking for long-term sustainable solutions and ways to resume trade flows with China”.