Lithuania has turned to the EU for help after local media outlets hyped that the Chinese customs had blocked all imports from the Baltic nation amid an escalating diplomatic dispute over the Taiwan question. But if the EU respects the one-China principle, then it has the responsibility to restrain Lithuania from recklessly elevating its own political issue to the bloc's economic and trade sphere.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Friday that the country would seek assistance from the European Commission next week to solve the "unannounced sanctions," Bloomberg reported.
While the Chinese government hasn't issued any restrictive measures on goods imported from Lithuania, it seems that the Baltic nation cannot wait to play up the so-called sanctions imposed by Chinese ports on Lithuanian products.
Just one day after local media reports that Chinese customs had delisted Lithuania as a country of origin, causing customs clearing problem for Lithuanian exporters, the Lithuanian government pursued EU for diplomatic support, without confirming the issue with the relevant Chinese authorities or conducting even a basic investigation.
Given the fact that the Baltic nation has made repeated political and diplomatic provocations against China, including but not limited to allowing the Taiwan island to open a representative office in Lithuanian capital and smearing Chinese telecom and smartphone companies, it is hard to tell whether the "trade sanctioning" stunt is yet another attempt by the anti-China elements in Europe to attack China.
The EU needs to act with caution when it comes to Lithuania's trade complaint, which at least should be based on an impartial and objective investigation. Even though Lithuania is an EU member, there is no need to let China-EU trade be derailed or hijacked by Lithuania's wanton provocation of China's internal affairs.
Nevertheless, we have no intention to deny that economic and trade cooperation between Lithuania and China will be affected after China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of charge d'affaires, the lowest rank of diplomatic representative, over the latter's breach of the one-China principle.
Make no mistake that any country that provokes China's core interests is bound to find itself on the receiving end of countermeasures.
The growing dispute between China and Lithuania over the Taiwan question is a political problem caused by Lithuania's challenge of China's sovereignty. And it is bound to lead to difficulties in bilateral trade, which, however, is not necessarily the result of government directives.
After Lithuania allowed Taiwan to set up a representative office there, it is highly questionable whether Chinese companies are still willing to do business with Lithuanian companies and whether vast Chinese consumers will continue to buy its products as before. Even in terms of the advanced laser technology, where the Baltic nation reportedly excels, Chinese companies can find alternative partners to cooperate.
Of course, Lithuania could ask the EU for help. But if the EU is to step in the China-Lithuania dispute, it is advised to tackle the root cause of the trade issue by telling Lithuania to stop interfering China's internal affairs and challenging China's national security.
A united foreign and security policy is one of the cornerstones of the EU. Lithuania's deliberate provocation against China on the Taiwan question is also a deliberate sabotage of the united foreign policy and unity of the EU, which deserves punishment from the bloc.