NEW YORK, Feb 11 — Canada will seek to join the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia to be included in consultations as part of the European Union’s dispute with China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s alleged trade curbs on Lithuania.

“Canada is concerned by China’s recent trade actions taken against Lithuania and European Union goods and services with Lithuanian content, which could undermine the rules-based international trading system and its institutions”, Global Affairs Canada said in a statement on Thursday.

The EU launched a challenge at the Geneva-based trade body in January, accusing China of discriminatory trade practices against Lithuania that it says threaten the integrity of the EU’s single market.

China has downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania and pressured multi-nationals to sever links with the Baltic nation of 2.8 million people after it allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in Vilnius.

Canada said it opposed “economic coercion” and stood with “like-minded partners in supporting rules-based international trade” with the WTO.

China, which has said the dispute was political rather than economic and labeled Lithuania’s actions an attempt to “hijack” EU-Beijing relations, regards the self-governed island of Taiwan as its own territory.

The challenge at the WTO allows 60 days for the parties to confer in order to reach a settlement. If none is reached, the EU may choose to launch a formal dispute that would set up a WTO panel to study its claims against China. — Reuters