VILNIUS – Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu had an unannounced meeting with over a dozen Lithuanian MPs, including Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, at the Seimas in Vilnius on Thursday and discussed ties between Vilnius and Taipei.
Wu arrived in Vilnius as he continues his visit to the Baltic states, hoping to strengthen ties.
On the eve of the visit, Lithuania's leaders and Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said they would not meet with the Taiwanese minister because of the one-China policy and they avoid any hint of recognition of Taiwan, but the Seimas speaker received Wu for a few minutes in her office.
"It is two good friends meeting with each other and sharing all kinds of things about bilateral relations. It was wonderful," Wu told reporters.
Speaking with BNS, Cmilyte-Nielsen, who has recently visited Taiwan herself, thanked the minister for the warm welcome she received in Taipei.
"We discussed ways to further step up economic cooperation and support for Ukraine," she said.
Wu also met with members of the parliamentary group for relations with Taiwan.
Wu downplayed the fact that we would not be having official meetings with Lithuanian leaders.
"Lithuania is such a good friend of Taiwan and we want to discuss with whoever people who are interested in working together with us so that the bilateral relations between Taiwan and Lithuania can even be better," he said.
Wu also met with members of the parliamentary group for relations with Taiwan in Vilnius, and will later participate in a democracy forum.
Speaking to reporters, the Taiwanese minister highlighted similarities between the two countries and called the Baltic states and Taiwan "frontline democracies" who "face the expansion of authoritarianism".
"In this part of the world, it's Russia launching war against Ukraine and also talking about Baltic states as part of the Russian Federation. (...) In the Indo-Pacific, China has also being expanding themselves, pointing that Taiwan is part of China. This is against the will of Taiwanese people," the minister said, adding that he feels the support of Lithuania and other Baltic states.
"We share the same values – freedom, democracy, the protection of human rights and the rule of law. (...) This is unlimited space for us to cooperate with each other and that's my purpose to come to this part of the world to work with each other," Wu said.
Later in the day, Taiwan's top diplomat will participate in the Future of Democracy Forum organized by the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University and the Foreign Ministry.
This is the first time a Taiwanese foreign minister visits the Baltic states.
LITHUANIA AS TAIWAN'S GATEWAY TO THE EU
Lithuania has the most advanced relations with Taiwan among all the Baltic countries as Vilnius allowed Taipei to open a Taiwanese representative office in the Lithuanian capital in 2021.
This move angered China and Beijing restricted relations with Vilnius and blocked Lithuanian exports and imports, forcing the EU to appeal to the World Trade Organization early last year.
Lithuania expects high-tech business investment from Taiwan. So far, the most notable example of the intensified bilateral relations is Teltonika's cooperation agreement with Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to share semiconductor technology.
Wu says Lithuanian businesses, including laser developers, can become part of Taiwan's semiconductor production and supply chains.
"TMSC is making an investment in Germany. Of course, it is not just that investment in Germany, we hope that we can bring lots of countries, lots of industries together to form that ecosystem and, of course, Lithuania will have advantage in that area," the Taiwanese minister said.
Matas Maldeikis, chair of the parliamentary group of relations with Taiwan, says Lithuania wants to be part of the chip ecosystem because "it is part of our economic growth".
"We want to be a place through which Taiwan can discover the EU market," the MP told reporters after the group's meeting with Wu.
For his part, Zygimantas Pavilionis, chair of the Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, said they discussed support for Kyiv as it’s fighting against Russian invasion: "We asked for their help for further support in Ukraine".
Tallinn has announced that it will allow Taiwan to open a non-diplomatic Taipei representative office in the country to boost economic and cultural ties with the self-ruled island, but pledges to maintain the "one China" principle in political relations.
Wu says negotiations on the representative office will take time but he hopes it will eventually be opened and that relations will be mutually beneficial.
Asked whether he would seek to have Taiwan mentioned in the name of the mission, the minister said: "It is a topic that needs to be negotiated and this is just the beginning of negotiations. I won't be able to go into details".