Lithuania on Thursday played down China’s decision to suspend imports of its beef, saying exporters have already secured other markets, as tensions rise over the Baltic nation’s ties with Taiwan.
The EU member enraged China last year when it allowed Taipei to open a representative office in Vilnius under the name of Taiwan – a significant diplomatic departure that defied pressure from Beijing, which does not recognise Taiwan as a country.
On Wednesday, the Chinese customs administration said in a notice that it would immediately suspend the acceptance of import declarations for Lithuanian beef, without giving further explanation.
“There are no practical problems due to that decision, as exports to China have not taken place in recent months at all,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told reporters. She said Lithuanian exporters “have already shifted to other markets”.
Since Lithuania’s spat with China, diplomatic ties have been downgraded and Lithuanian exports, such as rum, have been stopped at China’s border, although Beijing denies allegations of a “shadow embargo”.
China imported around 775 tonnes of beef from Lithuania in 2021, according to customs data, a small fraction of China’s import demand.
The move comes as Lithuania urged countries to resist Chinese “coercion”, with its foreign minister warning that Beijing would target more countries unless like-minded nations push back.
The EU has launched a case against Beijing at the World Trade Organization for targeting Lithuania over its stance on Taiwan.
Australia has also seen exports banned in China after a series of political disputes over the past two years in an economic row that has also hit beef imports.
- AFP, with additional editing by George Russell
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