Lithuania muddying waters fishing for favors

When the Lithuanian president said on Tuesday that the government's decision to allow Taiwan to open a representative office using the island's name was a mistake, he inadvertently revealed the nature of the farce by triggering a spontaneous chain reaction.

The president's claim that the move "was not coordinated with me" was immediately rebutted by the Lithuanian foreign minister.

And the prime minister and speaker of parliament of the country both attacked the president accusing him of raising a white feather.

And the chain soon extended beyond Lithuania's borders. Taipei said on Wednesday it will create a $200 million fund to invest in Lithuania, and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concerns over China's "bullying" of a small country in his meeting with his German counterpart in Washington.

Taipei and Washington intend that the material and moral support they are offering will shore up Vilnius' resolve in the face of the pressure from the Lithuanian business community, against which the move backfired.

In other words, the Lithuanian president's I-am-innocent admission that the move was a "mistake" has poured oil on the fire, as it has served to spur the external forces to push the Baltic state to walk farther on a wrong path in its relations with China.

Also on Wednesday, the Lithuanian government ordered a state-owned railway company not to sign a contract with a China-owned Spanish bridge builder, citing "national security interests", borrowing a leaf from the US administration's playbook.

In saying that "This isn't just about Lithuania, but about how every country in the world should be able to determine its own foreign policy free from this kind of coercion", Blinken has driven home the message that the "country of fewer than 3 million people" is nothing but a pawn in Washington's eyes.

The better Lithuania plays the role the US administration has assigned it, the more funding and support the Baltic state will receive from the US and its allies to cure the de facto self-inflicted wounds later, and the warmer the internal atmosphere of the club it seems to be a member of. But that will not be the case once it has outlived its usefulness.

The US is going to great lengths to try and isolate China from the international community by seeking to portray it as a reprobate state.

Now, while presenting Taipei as a beleaguered outpost of "democracy", it is pushing Vilnius to the fore to play the same role in Europe, taking advantage of the country's membership of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to try and widen the divide that has appeared between Europe and China.

It is not bullying by China that Lithuania is the victim of but the ransoming of the Lithuanian people's interests by some of their own politicians.