STA, 20 January 2022 - After calling for stable political relations following PM Janez Janša's statements on closer ties with Taiwan, the Slovenian-Chinese Business Council (Slovensko-kitajski poslovni svet - 斯洛文尼亚-中国商会斯洛文尼亚-中国商会) said on Thursday that Slovenian companies in the Chinese market were already facing a response from Chinese partners, some of them terminating contracts and exiting the agreed investments.
The council told the STA that some companies had their purchase contracts cancelled, some had been notified that physical or online sale of products had been terminated, and some had seen their Chinese partner withdraw from business investments that had already been agreed.
Other companies have meanwhile followed the example of Lithuania, where the dispute with China has resulted in tightening of customs procedures with the largest economy in Asia, and are trying to divert its operations through other EU countries.
"International cooperation is mostly about the stability of the business environment, and as soon as it is shaken up, the economy feels the consequences," said the council, which is a part of Slovenia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).
In its first statement on Wednesday, the council stressed the importance of stable political relations and added that economic relations should remain non-politicised.
The council also told the STA today that Slovenia was an export-oriented economy, while China was one of its largest partners outside the EU. Anything that makes economic cooperation more difficult is not in the interest of the economy, it added.
"Although our products and services are of high quality and innovative, every change in political relations changes the dynamics of business," the council said, adding that political relations should be stable in order to ensure a stable business environment.
In an interview Janša gave on Monday to the Indian public service broadcaster Doordarshan, he said that Slovenia and Taiwan were "working on exchanging representatives", adding the representatives would not be at the level of embassies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China described his statements as "dangerous", whereas the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry expressed "gratitude" for his "staunch support".
Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek noted the importance of economic interests, saying that China was one of the largest economic partners outside the EU and personal views "must take into account the economic reality."
The statements prompted three centre-left opposition parties to request an emergency session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee today, as they believe these could have long-term consequences for relations with Asian countries.
Matjaž Nemec of the Social Democrats (SD) told the press the statements were "a self-initiative that could have consequences in international relations", which he believes is inconsistent with international treaties to which Slovenia was bound.
Presenting the call for a closed session, which has also been requested by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), Nemec said Janša's statements were a "strategic shift" in relation to the world's second largest economic power.
Andrej Rajh of the SAB assessed that Janša's statements were "inadmissible and arbitrary soloing that pursues exclusively partial interests of his own party to the detriment of Slovenia", noting that China was a major economic partner to Slovenia.
Nik Prebil of the LMŠ said that the gist of the problem with the "unwise" statements by Janša was that he was aggravating relations with foreign countries, in this case with the world power China, "over partial interests of the prime minister."
He added that it was the National Assembly that shaped, changed and adopted the foreign policy of Slovenia, and noted that Janša announcing the establishment of diplomatic missions with Taiwan had circumvented the National Assembly.