China has banned Lithuanian products from entering the Chinese market amid growing tensions, according to Lithuanian media on Thursday (2 December). The European Commission said it is gathering information and will return to the matter later.
Lithuanian businesses are unable to custom-clear goods in China as the latter removed Lithuania from its custom systems as of December, the Baltic Times reported.
On 21 November, China downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the Baltic country after Taiwan opened a de facto embassy there.
As part of its “One China policy”, Bejing views self-ruled and democratically governed Taiwan as its territory, with no statehood rights. It has pressured countries to downgrade or sever formal or informal relations with the island.
A Lithuanian businessman exporting wood to China complained about the problems he encountered and the foreign ministry confirmed possible disruptions for Lithuanian products’ entry to China.
The ministry said it wanted the European Union to speak up.
“The ministry is informed about possible disruptions to Lithuanian products’ entry to China. We are in touch with Lithuanian businesses, and we are collecting all possible information from the Chinese side regarding the restrictions being introduced. We are also in contact with the European Commission regarding an EU-level response,” the ministry said.
Speaking to the website 15min.lt, Vidmantas Janulevicius, the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists president, also confirmed the information.
“Lithuania has been removed from the custom systems. It seems that such a country is non-existent in China’s custom system. It creates additional problems for exporters,” he told the news website.
Asked for comment on Friday, the EU executive said it was informed of Lithuanian shipments not being cleared through Chinese customs and import applications being rejected.
The Commission said it was in contact with Vilnius and the EU delegation in Beijing to collect more information and clarify the situation, adding it would react later.
An illustration of the glacial climate between Vilnius and Beijing is a recent tweet from a Chinese official who accused Lithuania of a “massacre of Jews in history”.
“Today, racism remains a grave problem in the country, with Jews and other ethnic minorities suffering serious discrimination”, said Lijan Zhao, spokesperson in the Chinese foreign ministry.
In #Lithuania, there was once massacre of Jews in history. Today, racism remains a grave problem in the country, with Jews and other ethnic minorities suffering serious discrimination. pic.twitter.com/KmDaXUuKk6
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) November 30, 2021
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/ Alice Taylor]