Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is leaving for Shanghai later this week to discuss trade issues as China is inviting Europe to create a closer alliance to counterbalance the United States' protectionist policy.
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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. The exhibition will be visited by at least 15 foreign heads of state and government.

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 with the Chinese leader will provide an opportunity to discuss issues where Asia and Europe have shared interests, including the promotion of open trade and fight against terrorism," he said.

According to Aleksiejūnas, Grybauskaitė will present Lithuania's interests in China by opening one of the exhibition's forums.

Focus on fintech and food

Lithuania will present its foodstuffs and textiles during the exhibition. 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.

Trade and political ties between Europe and China have gained new meaning amid growing tensions over tariffs on foreign goods, introduced by the United States. China is calling on the EU to step up their ties and together fight against US President Donald Trump's tariff decisions.

Asked to comment on how Trump's policies are changing the EU-China ties, Aleksiejūnas said: "Open trade is the issue uniting Europe and Asia, and together we see the need to develop a rule-based trade system."

Communist China's influence

But some officials are concerned that a stronger Sino-European alliance might weaken America's influence, which can undermine Lithuania's security in the long-run.

Some also fear that investments from Communist China in Lithuania might also bring unwanted political influence, and Beijing's exceptional focus on Eastern Europe is splitting the EU's unity.

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.

The Lithuanian president is leaving for China on Friday night and the main meetings are scheduled for the upcoming Monday.

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