Standing Up to Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

Interview with MP Matas Maldeikis on Lithuania’s motives, expectations and fears behind its bold China policy

26 August 2021

Withdrawal from the 17+1 format, a resolution condemning China for the Uyghurs’ genocide and Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius. Lithuanian politicians have been working hard in the recent months to make their position clear – China is a threat to Lithuanian and other democracies’ security and should not be indulged.

Recently, Lithuania has often been labelled as a leader in the EU in the field of policy towards China. The increased activity in Lithuania’s China policy came with the new government elected late last year which pledged to engage in a value-based foreign policy. One of the most active politicians behind Lithuania’s bold decisions made towards China is Matas Maldeikis, a parliamentarian from the ruling conservative party’s faction and the Head of the Parliamentary Group for Relations with Taiwan. We talked to him about China’s response, hopes to have a common European China policy and expectations for cooperation with democratic powers such as Taiwan.

The latest deterioration in Lithuanian-Chinese relations arose due to Lithuania’s decision to open a Taiwanese representative office in Vilnius. The opening of the office itself is nothing new in the European Union, but China was angered by the name of the office itself. Why was it decided to call the mission not by the name of Taipei, as in other European countries, but by the name of Taiwan?

Picture of the Interviewee MP Matas Maldeikis taken by Olga Posaškova
MP Matas Maldeikis photo taken by Olga Posaškova

It was, after all, a matter of negotiation and, of course, a matter of politics. The wish of the Taiwanese side to have ‘Taiwan’ in the name of the representative office reflects their desire to distance themselves from the name ‘Republic of China’ which is inherited from the past and carries with it lots of confusion. Official Chinese outlets accuse us that we want Taiwan to represent China and thus break the one-China principle, but the reality is exactly the opposite, the Taiwanese want to represent only themselves and that‘s why they asked for such a name. It was simply a political decision in order to show leadership and to show what the de facto situation is, specifically that it is a representation of Taiwan.

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Valdonė Šniukaitė

Visegrad Insight’s Junior Fellow currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Politics and Sociology at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. In her studies, Valdonė focuses on the Baltic states’ foreign policy towards Russia and its informal practices in the Baltics.

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