Chinese customs have removed the Baltic state from the official customs database. Trade between the two countries is currently at a standstill. A punitive action and a precedent
Coy Streetmater from Stockholm, Christophe Geeson from Beijing
Destroying a country like that? Chinese customs can do that. The state of Lithuania no longer has Chinese customs officials.
A Lithuanian timber exporter first reported this in the local media last week. He told the Lithuanian news website that 300 containers full of trees were stranded in ports like Shanghai after a two-month voyage in the world’s oceans. His Chinese partner told him that customs did not allow imports. It soon became clear that the same thing had happened to other Lithuanian companies. Vidmantas Janulevičius, president of the Federation of Lithuanian Entrepreneurs, said: “It seems that our country is no longer under the Chinese customs system.
Result: Goods from Lithuania can no longer land in China – on the contrary, exports from China can reach Lithuania. Can’t trade right now. There has never been such a thing before.
The step is a “basic expansion”.
Reinhard Bottikofer, Europabgeordneter
For now it is the last episode of a controversy that has grown into an exhibition war between two unequal enemies since the spring of this year: Lithuania, with a population of 3 million, is the second largest economy in the world, with a population of 1, 4 billion. Lithuania knew that Beijing should engage in punitive action, China had repeatedly threatened, and its propaganda documents denounced Lithuania as a “national comedy” that could “crush like a fly.”
But to remove a whole country from the customs list? Green MEP and China expert Reinhard Bütikofer says he has never seen anything like this before.
The controversy began this year when Lithuania withdrew from the China-led Eastern and Central European “17 plus 1 countries” trade summit – the first insult to Beijing. Shortly afterwards came the scandal: good relations between Lithuania and Taiwan announced that they wanted to open a company in Lithuania. Instead of settling for the word “Taipei” which is the name of the capital of Taiwan as is customary all over the world, something should be called “representation of Taiwan”.
China recalls ambassador
Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China. As many observers have pointed out, converting “Taipei” to “Taiwan” is actually a small step. It has nothing to do with the official diplomatic recognition of Taiwan as a nation. – However, China sees it differently and accuses Lithuania of violating the only China policy it has put forward. First, Beijing halted freight train traffic via Lithuania and later withdrew its ambassador from Vilnius.
The leadership in Beijing has often imposed trade sanctions. Following the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 2010 to author and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, China imposed an import ban on salmon from Norway. After tensions with Australia, the machine recently imposed penalties on Australian wine and refused to unload cargo from ships carrying coal from Australia. But wiping out a state from the customs notification system as if it had disappeared from the earth is a new approach.