"We welcome the European Commission’s decision on behalf of the EU to request the WTO to establish a panel. This step sends another message to China: the EU will defend the single market and EU member states by all means are against China’s politically motivated economic coercion," Landsbergis was quoted as saying in a statement released by his ministry of Wednesday.

The minister also stressed that Lithuania wants constructive relations with China, adding, however, that China’s systematic violations of international trade rules and legitimate business interests can not be tolerated.

Landsbergis noted that China had already had the opportunity to resolve the dispute during the WTO consultations but did not behave constructively. Therefore, establishing a panel was fair and defended the rule-based international trade order.

"Illegal economic pressure, even if against just one EU Member State, must be seen as an attack on the whole of the Union. Thus, the EU will protect its rights and use every possibility offered by international law," the Lithuanian foreign minister said.

Earlier in the day, the EU asked the World Trade Organization to set up two panels as part of its ongoing trade disputes with China. One concerns the legality of the trade restrictions that China has had in place against Lithuanian exports and EU exports containing Lithuanian content since December 2021, the European Commission said.

The other concerns the legality of China restricting EU holders of high-tech patents from accessing EU courts to effectively protect and enforce their rights.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will consider the request to establish a panel on 20 December. China has the right to oppose the first request, in which case the decision on the establishment of a panel would be taken at a meeting due to take place on January 30, 2023.

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