Biden administrator backs countries defying Beijing

A soldier in front of the Tiananmen Gate stands guard outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, in 2016. (Jason Lee / Reuters)

Small countries that defy the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party do so by braving the risk of a disproportionate, reckless and punitive response. This is what Australians saw when they dared to protect the integrity of their country’s political system from Chinese interference and called for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. This is what Lithuanians learned when they dared to forge closer ties with Taiwan, choosing to host a “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Vilnius. In both cases, diplomatic stories and retaliatory trade measures ensued.

This seems to be the reason why, in a whirlwind of diplomacy, U.S. State Department officials rushed to hug their Lithuanian counterparts when the office opened and China’s subsequent decision to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania. A senior human rights official visited Vilnius, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landbergis traveled to Washington to meet Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in a meeting today ‘hui.

To make sure there is no doubt about the purpose of the flurry of meetings, Sherman “expressed his support for Lithuania’s plans to expand ties with democracies in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to a reading from them. meeting, and Landsbergis, representing the small Baltic state, attended meetings yesterday with Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell and Daniel Kritenbrink, deputy secretary of state in charge of the East Asian affairs office and of the Pacific.

This is all about showing their support for Lithuania and telling other smaller countries that might challenge Beijing – including supporting Taiwan – that they can do so while finding support in Washington. This is important given the influence Beijing can have on countries with much less influence than the United States and the success with which it has isolated Taipei on the world stage. The administration’s actions here are also in line with its Democratic agenda – and as Landsbergis visited Washington, the state released the full list of December Democracy Summit meetings. participants, which includes Taiwan.

From the president’s bizarre blunders on US-Taiwan relations to the way the state asks diplomats to talk about Chinese malign influence campaigns, there are plenty of reasons to question the administration’s approach to the crisis. Chinese challenge. Its handling of Lithuania’s growing ties with Taiwan, on the other hand, sets a valid standard.

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