Beijing, Nov 19 (EFE).- Beijing has expressed “strong protest over and firm opposition” to the “egregious” opening of a Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania.
In a statement on its website on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Lithuania of renouncing the political commitments it made when it established diplomatic relations with China in 1991, shortly after achieving its independence from the Soviet Union.
“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,” an unnamed ministry spokesperson said in the notice.
“The Lithuanian side shall be responsible for all the ensuing consequences.”
Taiwanese offices in countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing often carry names such as “Taipei Representative Office,” which avoid identifying Taiwan as a separate territory from China.
However, the office in Vilnius is named “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania,” which Beijing had warned would undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and “flagrantly violates the one-China principle.”
According to the Taiwanese foreign ministry’s July announcement of the plan to open the office, the move “demonstrates Taiwan’s resolve to continue expanding its relations with European countries” and “in the future, Taiwan and Lithuania will have a lot of mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, industry and technology.”
It also stressed the European country’s respect for “universal values such as democracy, freedom and human rights” and assured that Taiwan has “similar ideas.”
In recent years, Lithuania has strengthened its relations with Taiwan.
More than half of Lithuania’s parliamentarians co-signed a letter to the World Health Organization for the past two years in which they asked for Taiwan’s admission to the World Health Assembly, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said.
In addition, Lithuania donated 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan in June.
China has repeatedly opposed that countries maintaining diplomatic relations with Beijing develop official exchanges with Taiwan and in August recalled its ambassador in Lithuania.
Taiwan currently maintains official diplomatic relations with 15 countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Vatican City, Haiti, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Eswatini, Tuvalu, Nauru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Belize, the Marshall Islands and Palau.
Taiwan has been governed autonomously since 1949, although China claims sovereignty of the island, which it considers a rebel province and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve reunification. EFE