VILNIUS – China is angry over Lithuania's withdrawal from the 17+1 format, rather than the name of the Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania, says Laima Liucija Andrikiene, chair of Lithuania's parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"There's this ongoing finger-pointing at the name, although the real reason is totally different. I believe China was considerably hit and is dissatisfied with Lithuania's withdrawal from the 17+1 format as it's part of China's strategy to dominate the world," L. L. Andrikiene told reporters at the parliament on Friday.
In her words, the 17+1 format was created for Central and Eastern Europe to divide the European Union's unity.
"To divide the EU's unity, to pit the EU and the US against each other by to prevent them from negotiating a trans-Atlantic investment agreement, with the negotiations practically completed in late 2016, and afterwards, having removed the most powerful players out of the game, to dominate the world," the committee chair said.
Last May, Lithuania announced its decision to withdraw from the 17+1 economic and political cooperation formal that is key for China. It was then stated that it was a dividing format.
Lithuania spent nine years in this format since 2012. Besides Lithuania, it also involves the EU members of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
"We do not view China as an enemy, as a major evil, we view it and speak with China as respected partner but our message is "yes" to cooperation but "no" to dominance," L. L. Andrikiene said.
Relations between Lithuania and China turned sour after Vilnius allowed Taiwan to call its representative office "Taiwanese" rather than "Taipei's".
Last November, China officially downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania to the level of chargé d’affaires.
As the diplomatic row escalated, Lithuanian businesses said they were facing various trade restrictions from China, which Vilnius officials described as "undeclared sanctions".