Quick Takes on Lithuania s Indo-Pacific Strategy

1. The continued Asia - Europe linkages

Lithuania emphasizes that “transatlantic and Indo-Pacific security are deeply interconnected”. This is also the assessment made by other countries’ Indo-Pacific strategies in the post-Ukraine conflict, confirming that the conflict has not divert the world’s attention away from the Indo-Pacific region. On the other hand, Asia - Europe linkages in terms of security and economic prosperity is increasingly underlined.

The US version of the Strategy in 2022 stated that this trend was inevitable and affirmed that Washington would promote the Indo-Pacific connection with the EU or NATO. The UK document (part of the Integrated Review Refresh 2023) also mentions this connection.

2. “Tougher” approach on China

The Strategy mentions China 16 times and Taiwan 16 times (even more than mentions of Russia - 8 times), evaluates that China is using coercion in many fields, affirms that Lithuania can withstand economic pressure from China and shares this experience with the countries in the Indo-Pacific. Notably, Lithuania also sets “red lines” for China (which is not observed in others’ Indo-Pacific Strategies), which is if China provides military support for Russia against Ukraine or uses force against Taiwan.

Lithuania’s position on China is stronger than that in Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, or the EU’s strategies. Possibly, Lithuania’s tone is similar to that of France (considering China as an “increasing challenge”) and the UK (considering China as a “systemic competitor”). This position can be partly attributed to the difficulties in Lithuania - China relations in recent years (for example, Lithuania was the first country to use the name “Taiwan” instead of “Taipei” for its representative office; China downgraded diplomatic relations and sanctioned some Lithuanian officials, etc.).

3. Clearer position on the South China Sea

The Strategy states that “around 40% of EU’s foreign trade travels through the South China Sea”, where China is conducting many military activities. Lithuania also supports freedom of navigation and international law to ensure regional stability.

Such position is not particular, as it is not too different from other European countries’. It does not mention the UNCLOS, the South China Sea Arbitration Award or the Code of Conduct between China and the ASEAN. The South China Sea is only mentioned twice. However, this can still be considered a step forward for Lithuania in this issue since this country has not made any unilateral statement on the South China Sea in prior to the release of this document.

An original version of the article was published here.

Translated by Minh Ha

Edited by Hoang Do, Viet Ha