China downgrades diplomatic ties with Lithuania over Taiwan office opening

China views Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, as its territory and opposes any kind diplomatic ties with a third country.
The building with the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius, Lithuania. China has downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the Baltic state after Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway region, opened a de facto embassy in capital Vilnius. (AFP)
The building with the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius, Lithuania. China has downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the Baltic state after Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway region, opened a de facto embassy in capital Vilnius. (AFP)
Updated on Nov 22, 2021 03:21 AM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing

China on Sunday downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the Baltic state after Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway region, opened a de facto embassy in capital Vilnius.

The Chinese foreign ministry also issued a “stern warning” to Taiwan, saying it is “never a country”.

China views Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, as its territory and opposes any kind diplomatic ties with a third country.

On November 18, Lithuania, a nation of around 2.8 million people, brushed aside China’s protests, to allow Taipei to set up a “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania” in Vilnius.

“The Chinese side expresses its strong indignation and protest against this move, and decides to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the chargé d’affaires level,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

“It has allowed the establishment in Lithuania of the “Representative Office” bearing the name of Taiwan, thus creating an egregious precedent in the world,” the statement added.

Lithuania, according to agency reports from Vilnius, expressed regret over China’s move but defended its right to expand cooperation with Taiwan while respecting Beijing’s “One China” policy.

The Chinese foreign ministry, meanwhile, also warned Taiwan, saying it belongs to China. “We also have this stern warning for the Taiwan authorities: Taiwan is never a country. No matter how “Taiwan independence” forces try to misrepresent facts and confound black and white, the historical fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China cannot be changed.”

“Attempts to seek foreign support for political manipulation will prove a dead end,” the Chinese statement said.

The downgrade is believed to be a deterrent to some other European countries, warning them not to try to provoke China on key issues.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022