Taiwan sets up S$1.35 billion credit for Lithuania amid China row

Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius (above), a move that set off a bitter dispute with China. PHOTO: AFP

VILNIUS (AFP) - Taiwan said Tuesday (Jan 11) it will set up a US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) credit fund for business with Lithuania, where firms have been hit by a row with China over relations with Taipei.

The move comes after Taiwan last week said it would create a US$200 million investment fund for the Baltic EU state, which allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy using the island’s name in November.

These funds will be "available to any projects that can benefit the industrial development between Taiwan and Lithuania," said Taiwan's National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Lithuanian Economy Minister Ausrine Armonaite, Kung said the funds would focus on semiconductor, laser and satellite technology.

Lithuania has allowed Taiwan to open the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania in Vilnius - a significant diplomatic departure that set off a bitter dispute with China.

Taiwan typically uses "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office" or "Taipei Representative Office" in countries, likely due to these host countries' preference to avoid any semblance of treating Taiwan as a separate country in light of their "one-China" policy.

Beijing baulks at any international support for Taiwan that might lend a sense of international legitimacy to the island, which it considers part of its territory and to be reunified, by force if necessary.

Lithuanian business leaders and officials say the row has resulted in China blocking imports from Lithuania and other economic restrictions.

Armonaite said Lithuanian and Taiwanese experts in the semiconductor industry will meet soon.

"I believe this will be a great opportunity both for Lithuanian companies and Taiwanese businesses," she said.

Kung also said Taiwan would "do its best" to support the Lithuanian companies affected. Lithuania plans to open its own trade office in Taiwan in the first months of 2022.

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