Lithuania has always lived in a difficult neighborhood. Having a Russian bear as a neighbor is not easy.

This small nation of 2.7 million people has established itself as a democratic leader in the region. It was the first occupied Soviet state to declare independence and one of the first countries to give women the right to vote. In recent years, Lithuania has upheld these world accolades – by being a staunch defender of Ukraine in the face of Russian occupation and by standing up to the “last dictator of Europe” in neighboring Belarus.

Despite its incredible courage against the Russian bear, Lithuania faces a new wolf on its doorstep. Irritated by the opening of a new sales office with Taiwan, China has started to strengthen Lithuania. At a recent meeting Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis told me that China halted all trade with Lithuania, suspending rail freight to the country and blocking export permits for Lithuanian agricultural and forestry producers. China’s message was petty, but clear: don’t go through Beijing.

Illinois soybean growers can understand. After China raised tariffs on U.S. agricultural products in retaliation for measures taken by the former President TrumpDonald Trump Biden and the Border Patrol: So good to have the “adults” in charge Lawmakers are asking the Air Force to “pause all actions” on the movement of Space Command. job? FOLLOWING, Illinois soybean exports increased from $ 2.3 billion to $ 800 million.

For years, China has been seen as an aggressive mercantilist, interested only in profits, regardless of politics. But this description is outdated, if it was ever true.

China at 21st Century, led by Xi Jinping, proudly proclaims that its diplomats will be “wolf warriors” who will use tactics of economic pressure around the world to intimidate other countries and impose their will. From Vietnam to Japan, China’s economic coercion, coupled with heightened security tensions in the South and East China Seas, show no bounds in the region. But China’s fury doesn’t stop with its neighbors. China’s growing influence – and intimidation – extends to Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. It will use economic coercion to impose its will on every country in the world, unless we are united to stop it.

Earlier this month, Australia’s foreign minister and defense minister told a bipartisan group of senators how the Chinese had pressured Australia. When Australians called for an independent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, China retaliated by dramatically increasing tariffs on Australian exports, like wine and barley, reducing Sino-Australian trade by $ 4 billion in the first half of 2021 alone.

What can we do to face this global economic tyrant?

First, we must support our staunch NATO allies like Lithuania and Australia, the latter nation that has fought alongside the United States in every war since World War II. I helped create the Baltic Security Initiative to strengthen security assistance to Lithuania. And President BidenJoe Biden Arizona Democrats and activists envision Sinema’s main potential challenge over Biden’s agenda, Biden obstructionism, and the border patrol: It’s so good to have the “adults” in. charge Dental coverage for Medicare beneficiaries splits the parts PLUS also wisely met with the leaders of the “quads” of Australia, India and Japan last week to further strengthen our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

In addition, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have entered into a security pact called “AUKUS” to strengthen our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. This includes Australia’s acceptance to purchase new US-made nuclear submarines, which is the kind of cooperation we need to counter Chinese aggression in the region.

Second, we can help countries in China’s sights by encouraging other markets to work with the United States and other NATO allies for our mutual needs. Lithuania’s bilateral trade with China is relatively low, but the trade ban has continued to stifle Lithuania by depriving it of some intermediate goods. In fact, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how we need to build safer and more resilient supply chains instead of depending too much on China.

Finally, we must insist on clear and transparent economic rules for international trade, so that contracts are won on the basis of product quality, instead of corrupt payments or political retaliation. The United States missed an opportunity to establish better trade rules to compete with China when we pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But we should not give up on seeking to establish more transparent trade rules and standards in the Pacific, including strict labor and environmental standards, which would act as a counterweight to China. If the playing field is right, American businesses will win and create well-paying jobs here at home.

I believe that economic partnership, transparency and shared values ​​will triumph over the economic coercion of the “wolf warrior”. Countries around the world value their right to make sovereign decisions and they will not give in to the pressure of aggressive Chinese retaliation. It will take cooperation, force and diplomacy to keep the wolves away from our doorstep. The United States must lead the way.

Durbin is the Senate Majority Whip.


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