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Monday, November 29, 2021

China is downgrading diplomatic relations with Lithuania. Vilnius “regrets”

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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.

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.


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.

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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”.

Taiwan Representative Office in LithuaniaPAP / EPA / STRINGER

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 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

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