The Chinese foreign ministry has announced that it is recalling its ambassador to Lithuania and demanding Vilnius do the same after the Lithuanian government permitted Taiwan to establish a representative office in the country.
On Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lambasted a decision by the Lithuanian government to allow Taiwan to set up a representative office in Vilnius under the name of “Taiwan.”
“The decision brazenly violates the spirit of the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Lithuania and severely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
In response to Lithuania’s actions, Beijing said it had decided to recall its ambassador from the Baltic state and demanded the Lithuanian government bring its envoy back home from China.
“The Chinese side warns the Lithuanian side that there is only one China in the world and the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China,” the statement noted, reiterating that Beijing is internationally recognized as the home of the only Chinese government.
The foreign ministry called on Lithuania to immediately rectify its wrongdoing and “take concrete measures to undo the damage.” The statement also included a threat to Taiwan, warning that its quest for independence is dead and that its separatist activities are doomed to fail.
The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania is the first time the island’s name has been used as part of a diplomatic mission in Europe; normally ‘Taipei’ is used. “Taiwan and Lithuania are both at the strategic forefront of defending democratic institutions,” said Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, discussing the establishment of the Vilnius mission in July.
The move had been welcomed by Washington. “All countries should be free to pursue closer ties and greater cooperation with Taiwan, a leading democracy, a major economy, and a force for good in the world,” the US’s de facto embassy in Taiwan stated.
Only 15 countries have formalized diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory. Many others have de facto embassies, often termed trade offices, and referred to by the name ‘Taipei representative office’.
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