Lithuania will ‘pay for what it did’, says China after it forges ties with Taiwan

China’s reaction followed after Lithuania allowed Taipei to open a representative office in the capital, Vilnius, ignoring Beijing’s strong opposition against the move.
The building with the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, Vilnius. Taipei announced on Thursday it had formally opened a de facto embassy in Lithuania using the name Taiwan, a significant diplomatic departure that defied a pressure campaign by Beijing. (AFP)
The building with the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, Vilnius. Taipei announced on Thursday it had formally opened a de facto embassy in Lithuania using the name Taiwan, a significant diplomatic departure that defied a pressure campaign by Beijing. (AFP)
Published on Nov 19, 2021 04:24 PM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda

China on Friday said Lithuania will “pay for what it did”, a day after the tiny Baltic nation of 2.8 million people allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the capital.

“Lithuania only has itself to blame, it will have to pay for what it did,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Friday.

China’s reaction followed after Lithuania allowed Taipei to open a representative office in the capital, Vilnius, ignoring Beijing’s strong opposition against the move.

China claims Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, as a breakaway region to be reunified by force if required.

Only 15 countries have direct diplomatic ties with Taiwan, prompting China to say those countries violate the “one China” policy under which only the mainland is recognised formally.

Agency reports from Taipei quoted the Taiwanese foreign ministry as saying that the opening of the office would “charter a new and promising course” for Taiwan-Lithuania ties.

“There was huge potential for cooperation in industries including semiconductors, lasers and fintech,” it said, adding: “Taiwan will cherish and promote this new friendship based on our shared values.”

In August, China demanded that Lithuania recall its envoy in Beijing and announced it was withdrawing its ambassador from the Baltic country following a row over Vilnius’s decision to allow Taiwan to open a diplomatic office in the country.

Taiwan announced the new mission in Lithuania in July with its foreign ministry saying it would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.

The opening of the office on Thursday left Beijing fuming.

China’s foreign ministry said the move was a “crude inference” in the country’s internal affairs, in a statement released on Friday morning. “The Lithuanian side is responsible for all consequences arising therefrom. We demand the Lithuanian side immediately correct its mistaken decision,” the statement said.

“The Chinese government expresses strong protest over and firm objection to this extremely egregious act, and will take all necessary measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Lithuanian side shall be responsible for all the ensuing consequences,” said the spokesperson.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao later warned Lithuania that it would take “all necessary measures” to safeguard national sovereignty.

In September, Lithuania had angered China when its defence ministry recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities.

Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet”, “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement”, Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday, a Reuters report from Vilnius said in September.

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