In a statement U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai expressed strong U.S. support for Lithuania in the face of “economic coercion” from Beijing during a call with EU Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.
The development assumes significance since this is the second statement issued by Tai this week, after a call with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.
China is bullying Lithuania after Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the country. A belligerent China, which has made land claims with all of its neighbours, claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory.
Beijing has downgraded diplomatic ties and has recalled its ambassador to Lithuania; it is also applying pressure on companies, including German car parts maker Continental to stop using Lithuanian-made components.
Beijing has also blocked Lithuanian cargos from entering the country.
“Ambassador Tai emphasized the importance of working with the European Union and its member states to address coercive diplomatic and economic behavior through various avenues, including the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council,” said USTR referring to a new cooperative effort launched by Tai and Dombrovskis last September to improve transatlantic ties and better compete with China.
Tai and Dombrovskis, who serves as the EU’s trade chief, also discussed cooperation to address “global non-market excess capacity” in steel and aluminum, a reference to China’s overproduction of the metals that have flooded world markets.