The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China informed about lowering the level of diplomatic relations with Lithuania. This is retaliation for the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius, i.e. the de facto Taiwanese embassy, against which Beijing vehemently protested. In response, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement regretting the decision of the Chinese authorities. – It is primarily a bilateral matter between the Chinese state and Lithuania – commented the spokesman of the European Commission.
Despite protests from Beijing, the Lithuanian government allowed the Taiwanese authorities to open an office in Vilnius with the word “Taiwan” in its name, which creates a “false impression” that there is “one China and one Taiwan” in the world, violates Lithuania’s political obligations towards the PRC, seriously China’s sovereignty and interferes in their internal affairs – wrote in the Sunday communiqué of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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Lowering diplomatic relations
“The Chinese side expresses indignation and protest against this move and decided to lower diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of charge d’affaires,” Chinese diplomacy said. “The Lithuanian government must bear all the consequences of this. We call on the Lithuanian side to immediately rectify its mistake and not to disregard the strong conviction, will and ability of the Chinese to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also warned the Taiwanese authorities again that “attempts to seek support from abroad for the purpose of political manipulation will be a dead end”.
The answer of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Sunday expressing regret over China’s decision to cut diplomatic relations. The ministry in Vilnius emphasized that Lithuania has the right to expand its relations with Taiwan.
“Lithuania once again confirms that it adheres to the ‘One China’ policy, but at the same time has the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan and to accept and establish non-diplomatic missions ensuring the practical development of such relations, as do many other countries” – underlined in the statement.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded that the Taiwanese Representative Office is not a diplomatic mission and will primarily deal with the development of trade relations.
Taiwan: It’s ridiculous and deserves no comment
“By demanding that Taiwan and Lithuania stop exchanges and cooperation, the Chinese government has gone so far as to lower the rank of diplomatic relations, which only underlines the arrogance and pettiness of such a large and strong country. It is ridiculous and does not deserve comment,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the “One China” policy was a concept devised unilaterally by the PRC and “imposed to annex Taiwan”. “The People’s Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan and there is no interdependence between them,” the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said. “Our country maintains close and friendly relations with others, especially democratic states, and will not end them because of the anger and demands of the Chinese government,” we read.
The situation was also addressed by the Taiwanese government agency, the Taiwan Continental Council (MAC), which criticized Beijing’s decision and called China’s actions “extremely arrogant”. MAC said that this is not, as the PRC believes, an internal matter, but a matter between Taiwan and Lithuania, which Beijing has no right to comment on. The Council also called on Beijing to respect international norms and realities in the Taiwan Strait and to take a rational approach to relations between its two sides.
EU: this is a matter between China and Lithuania
– In contacts with China and in public statements, we made it clear that it was primarily a bilateral matter between the Chinese state and Lithuania – said a spokesman for the European Commission. He stressed that “the European Union is on the side of Lithuania in the face of continuing coercive measures by Beijing”. He emphasized that the actions of the government in Vilnius did not violate the policy of one China, respected by the EU.
Taiwan Representative Office in Lithuania
The representative office, which will de facto play the role of the Taiwanese embassy in Lithuania, was officially launched on November 18. The Taiwanese government has announced that it has the word “Taiwan” in its name, unlike most other establishments in the world that use the name of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei. This particularly angered the Chinese authorities.
In connection with the announcement that the office would be established, in August the Chinese authorities demanded that Lithuanian diplomacy dismiss the ambassador to Beijing. They also informed then that they were withdrawing their ambassador from Vilnius.
The communist authorities in Beijing recognize democratically ruled Taiwan as part of their territory and seek to take control of it. In recent years, activities aimed at the diplomatic isolation of the island and intensified military activities in its vicinity have been intensified, which the Taipei government considers to be an attempt to intimidate.
Only 15 countries have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but many others have de facto embassies, which are often referred to as trade offices, as is the case with the European Union. Beijing is demanding that capitals with which it has official diplomatic relations not keep them from Taipei under the “One China” principle.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / STRINGER