The Challenging Hegemony Roundtable held on November 30th, 2021 provided key insights into recent geopolitical developments surrounding Taiwan and the Baltic States stemming from Lithuania’s recent decision to accept a Taiwan Representative Office. Whereas Taiwan operates diplomatic offices around the world under a variety of names, Lithuania’s is the first in Europe to utilize the name “Taiwan,” a convention that the People’s Republic of China opposes in official diplomatic contexts since it claims Taiwan as its own. Each of the speakers covered specific areas of how relations between the Baltic States, Taiwan, and China have changed in recent years.
Professor Luo highlighted the role of the EU and how its overall disposition towards China has changed in recent years. With China now being viewed more as a rival by many EU states, there is more support for Taiwan developing amongst European policy makers and think tanks. Even though Lithuania has now antagonized China by accepting a Taiwan Representative Office, the EU still adheres to its own One China Policy and is reluctant to confront China due to the trade relationships that many EU states have with China. Dr. Luo ended her presentation with a call for the EU to stand up for its member states with Lithuania and for democracy around the world.
Dr. Auers presented a very brief history of the Baltic States and their history of occupation by the Soviet Union, a history that explains the Baltic sympathy towards Taiwan. Relations between the Baltic States and Taiwan began in the 1980s but were quickly set aside as the Baltic countries’ economic interests made partnering with China a better option. Lithuania, however, was disappointed at how little they benefited from their relationship with China. According to Dr. Auers, this disappointment, and the election of a new ruling government that champions a “values-based” foreign policy, explains why Lithuania accepted a Taiwan Representative Office.
Dr. Ferenczy expanded on how the EU is shifting towards what she referred to as a “pro-European, pro-democracy and not anti-China” direction. The EU wants to remain relevant in the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. With numerous challenges confronting it, from the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Russian aggression, a rising China and the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU has many problems to face. With China’s increasingly aggressive behavior however, there was now an opportunity for the EU to upgrade it relations with Taiwan. She said that it is incumbent upon each EU member state to take proactive measures to pursue relations with Taiwan. She enumerated practical steps for EU member states to take to achieve these goals.
By shedding light on the economic, historical, and political challenges facing the Baltic countries, the EU and Taiwan, the speakers described the dynamics of the relationship and where it could be potentially headed in the future.
Chih-Mei Luo (she/her)
Jean Monnet Chair Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy, National Taipei University
Chih-Mei Luo is the Jean Monnet Chair Professor at the Department of Public Administration and Policy, National Taipei University, Taiwan. She holds a PhD from the University of East Anglia, UK. Her main research focus is on European integration, European single currency/Euro, Economic governance and UK politics. She is the author of the two Chinese volumes, Reviewing the Effects of Regional Economic Integration: The Cases of Germany, France, and the UK as EU Members (2014), and The Euro and European Integration: History, Crisis and Prospects (2014). She is also the winner of the 2016 Academic Award of Sun Yat Sen Academic and Cultural Foundation.
Daunis Auers (he/him)
Professor of European Studies, University of Latvia
Daunis Auers is Professor of European Studies at the University of Latvia, Director of the Certus think tank and President of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS). He has published widely on political parties, populism and the radical right, europeanization and economic competitiveness. His book on The Comparative Government and Politics of the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 21st Century was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015.
Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy (she/her)
Dr. Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy is a postdoctoral research fellow hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan and guest lecturer at the National Dong Hwa University in Hualien, Taiwan. Zsuzsa is affiliated scholar at the Department of Political Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels), head of the associates network at 9DASHLINE, and non-resident research fellow at Next Generation Foundation Taiwan. Zsuzsa is also a consultant on China, Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula at Human Rights Without Frontiers. Between 2008 and 2020 Zsuzsa worked as a political advisor in the European Parliament in Brussels.
The roundtable was moderated by Guntis Smidchens, Kazickas Family Endowed Professor in Baltic Studies, UW Department of Scandinavian Studies, and James Lin, Assistant Professor in Taiwan Studies, UW Jackson School of International Studies.