VILNIUS – Taipei expects more Taiwanese business investment in Lithuania, Joseph Wu, Taiwan's top diplomat, said on Thursday.
Taipei earlier this year promised to offer a 1-billion-US-dollar credit fund for Lithuanian-Taiwanese joint business projects and to set up a 200-million-dollar fund for investment in Lithuania's industrial sector.
"We may have more. After the donation of vaccines from Lithuania to Taiwan, the people started to realize that Lithuania has a great potential. Businesses are encouraged by the government to look for targets for investment," the foreign minister told Lithuanian journalists at a press conference.
"I think we are likely to come with more investment in Lithuania," Wu said.
"Taiwan is a democracy. We don't operate like China. We cannot grab one company and say, 'You have to invest there'. What we want to is to encourage them, make it convenient for them," he said.
Taiwanese businesses have identified several priority sectors, including the semiconductor industry, according to Wu.
Speaking about the partnership between Vilnius and Taipei in the field of semiconductors, Taiwan's top diplomat said that it is not enough to build a factory in Lithuania, as the entire supply chain must be ensured, which is a complex process.
"We have to be realistic," Wu said. "Right now, what we have been focusing on is bringing Lithuania into this supply chain."
"We have already targeted one company in Lithuania," he said. "We will help this company to go into the experimental stage."
Wu also said that the two funds being set up to develop trade links between Lithuania and Taiwan "are in the final stages".
Following the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius last autumn, Beijing downgraded diplomatic ties with Vilnius and blocked Lithuanian exports.
According to Wu, Taiwan is grateful to Vilnius which allowed it "to set up an office in Lithuania and to call ourselves the right name".
He said he condemns China's unofficial sanctions against Lithuania, calling them "unjust".
Lithuania applied in March to open a trade representative office in Taipei. According to the island's foreign minister, permission has already been granted.
"I don't want to make any announcements for your government, but I think it's coming very close to have a real office here in Taipei," Wu said. "We are waiting for the officials appointed by your government to come to Taiwan.
He noted that the functions of the representative office will depend on Lithuania.
The minister said that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen may travel to Lithuania when coronavirus rates in Taiwan stabilize, but added that no visit is planned at the moment.
Unlike China, Taiwan has condemned Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the killing of civilians. The island has also joined international sanctions and is providing medical aid.
According to Wu, Beijing may take military action against Taiwan while the world's attention is focused on Ukraine, but "it is not something that is imminent".
"When democracies see other democracies being threatened we need to stick together. Like we stick together to deal with Russia. I'm sure Western democracies will stick together with Taiwan if China uses force," he said.
Taiwan's top diplomat also said that China's position on the war in Ukraine is not neutral.
"On the surface they try to say they are neutral, but in reality I think they are trying to help the Russians," he said. "The Chinese propaganda machine, both at home and abroad, is spreading the narrative that the war was started by EU and NATO expansion."