Grybauskaitė going to China to open up opportunities for Lithuanian business
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is leaving for Shanghai on Friday and pledges to seek political support for opening up this huge local market for Lithuanian products.
The visit, however, comes amid tensions over trade wars and human rights activists' warnings about the persecution of dissidents and ethnic minorities.
In Shanghai, the Lithuanian leader is scheduled to meet with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and attend China's first imports exhibition. With this exhibition, China is trying to soften criticism that it blocks foreign companies from its internal market and protects national companies.
Grybauskaitė will join leaders from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Croatia, Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Pakistan and the Cook Islands.
On Sunday, Grybauskaitė will attend a gala dinner hosted by the Chinese leader, and their bilateral meeting is scheduled for Monday. The Lithuanian president will also open one of the three forums during the exhibition, dedicated to trade and investment. The other two will be opened by the Czech president and the Croatian premier.
Nerijus Aleksiejūnas, chief advisor to the Lithuanian president on foreign policy issues, says this exhibition "shows China's opening-up and wish to trade".
"It's the first exhibition on China's imports, and it also provides opportunities for Lithuania to export to China. There have been no such exhibitions held so far as China has talked only about its exports," the diplomat told BNS Lithuania on Monday.
The bilateral meeting of the Lithuanian and Chinese presidents will focus on the promotion of open trade.
Lithuanian food products and textiles will be presented during the exhibition in China, with 18 Lithuanian producers, including Mantinga, Pieno Žvaigždės and Daumantai, in attendance.
A separate event on new financial technologies will also be held in Shanghai, and here Lithuania will speak about its ambition to become the fintech center of Northern Europe.
The Lithuanian delegation will call on China to issue Lithuanian companies permits to export beef, poultry and feed to China, Aleksiejūnas said.
In his words, Lithuanian laser producer have already consolidated their positions in China, and there is a potential to expand cooperation in the area of biotechnology, the diplomat said.
Official figures from Lithuania's statistics service, Statistics Lithuania, show that China is the 25th among Lithuania's exports partners, and comes in 13th in terms of imports.
Human rights activists are calling on the West to put more pressure on China over growing persecution of dissidents and ethnic minorities.
China froze ties with Lithuania for several years after Grybauskaitė met with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Vilnius in 2013. The Dalai Lama also visited Vilnius in June but the president and government representatives did not meet with him this time.