In Other News – Lithuania stands up to China as Taiwan opens a de facto embassy in Vilnius & More – 11/19/2021

November 19, 2021

Lithuania stands up to China as Taiwan opens a de facto embassy in Vilnius. In defiance of ongoing pressure from Beijing, on Thursday Lithuania announced that Taiwan had formally opened a de facto embassy in Vilnius using the name Taiwan. Other Taiwan offices in the United States and Europe refer to themselves as “Taipei” and avoid refence to the island itself, which China continues to view as its own. Back in August, when Lithuania refused to reverse its decision to open a de facto Taiwan embassy in Vilnius, Beijing recalled its Lithuanian ambassador and demanded that Vilnius follow suit. Chinese state media further remarked that Lithuania was “crazy” and epitomized the anti-China path in Europe.

This week Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis, who has called upon Japan and the United States to step-up joint coordination against China, said that economic pressure from Beijing poses a test for Lithuania, and that democratic countries must align in opposition to China’s coercive measures. Other Central European states like the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also been growing closer to Taiwan and could economically benefit from Taiwanese investment and strengthening trade; but this is a trend that China would like to avoid. Taiwan’s foreign ministry stated that the new Vilnius office would chart a “new and promising course” for relations with Lithuania, and cooperation on industries like fintech, lasers, and semiconductors is anticipated.

On visit to Europe former Brazilian President Lula da Silva is treated like a head of state but at home he’s taking concerted measures to become an effective one. Former Brazilian President Lula was making the rounds in Europe this week, trying to consistently differentiate himself on global issues from current Brazilian President Bolsonaro. Lula, whose corruption charges were annulled last spring and is currently the leading candidate for the upcoming 2022 Presidential elections, visited French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and was received in a manner usually reserved for a current head of state. Macron and Lula reportedly discussed the future of the European Union and integration of Latin America. Lula also gave a speech before a committee within the European Parliament where he received a standing ovation.

While Lula’s international reach is apparent, he’s also making dramatic efforts back home to make sure that if he does secure the presidency, he’s going to be able to lead effectively. Two weeks ago, Brazilian journalists broke the news that Lula was reaching out to a historic nemesis, Brazilian politician Geraldo Alckmin to serve as his vice president. Whether or not the two ultimately unite, Lula’s outreach to Alckmin, who ran against him in a heated campaign in 2006 and has consistently supported Lula’s opponents, suggests that the former president is willing to take great strides to form a broad coalition and ensure a future majority in congress.