VILNIUS – China downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania on Sunday following the opening of a Taiwanese office in Vilnius last week.
It informs the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs a declaration that the new Taiwanese Representation Office in Lithuania “openly creates the false impression of ‘one China, one Taiwan’ in the world, renounces the political commitment of Lithuania … on the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and interferes grossly with China’s internal affairs. “
“The Chinese government has, of good will to maintain ties between China and Lithuania, repeatedly warned Lithuania against acting in bad faith. Unfortunately, Lithuania has chosen to ignore China’s solemn stance and to disregard the broader interests in bilateral ties and the fundamental norms that govern international relations. ” It added that the Lithuanian Government “must bear all the consequent consequences,” adding that it called on it to rectify its “error”.
China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province and has promised to take it back, by force if necessary. Military tension has been rising in recent months.
The EU, which has previously warned of an impact on EU-China relations if Beijing’s ties with Vilnius deteriorates, has not yet responded to China’s recent moves.
Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomėnas told POLITICO that Lithuania will have to “fix” its diplomatic relations with Beijing accordingly. “In a way, this is not new. It only confirms the situation where our ambassadors have been recalled … This maintains the current situation,” he said.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued one announcement Sunday said it regretted China’s reaction.
“Lithuania reaffirms its commitment 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 to ensure the practical development of such relations, as many other countries do. of the Taiwanese representation in Lithuania is based on economic interests, “the Lithuanian statement said.
A senior Lithuanian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was unlikely that Beijing would cut off diplomatic relations altogether. “If they do, they can not prevent us from approaching Taiwan, which would be a disaster for them.”
Taiwan opened its representative office in Lithuania on Thursday, officially upgrading the economic ties between Taipei and Vilnius – it also serves as a de facto Taiwanese embassy.
China recalled its ambassador from Vilnius in August when plans for upgraded relations with Taiwan were announced. The Lithuanian ambassador to Beijing was recalled on September 4 and remains in Vilnius.
Lithuania has taken an increasingly confident stance towards Beijing in recent months. In May, it withdrew from China’s “17 + 1” format for economic cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe, which is seen by some as a way for Beijing to divide the EU and undermine attempts at a comprehensive approach to China.
China also sent a “stern warning” to Taiwan.
“Taiwan is never a country. No matter how [much] ‘Taiwan independence forces’ try to distort facts and confuse black and white, the historical fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China can not be changed. Attempts to seek foreign support for political manipulation will prove to be a dead end, “the Chinese statement read.
Beijing’s announcement came the day after Taiwan’s former Vice President Chen Chien-jen spoke at a forum on democracy in Vilnius, hosted by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
Chen, a key ally of the current Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, who is considered by Beijing to be pro-independence, appeared alongside the foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia, the latter of whom currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. US Deputy Secretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya also participated.
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