U.S. trade chief expresses support for Lithuania amid China ‘coercion’
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Friday expressed strong U.S. support for Lithuania and the European Union in the face of “economic coercion” from China during a call with EU Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, USTR said in a statement.
The expression of support for Lithuania is the second this week from Tai, who had a call with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Wednesday.
Lithuania is under pressure from China, which claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, to reverse a decision last year to allow the island to open a de facto embassy in Vilnius under its own name.
China has recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and downgraded diplomatic ties, and is pressuring companies like German car parts giant Continental to stop using Lithuanian-made components. It has also blocked Lithuanian cargos from entering China.
“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,” USTR said, 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.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)