Diplomatic crisis between China and Lithuania following establishment of Taiwan representative office in Vilnius

The crisis was brewing between the two countries, it is now open. China officially downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the rank of “Charge d’affaires”, said Sunday, November 21, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Beijing protests against the establishment of a de facto Taiwanese embassy in Vilnius.

“The Chinese government had to lower diplomatic relations between the two countries (…) in order to safeguard its sovereignty and the fundamental norms of international relations ”, explained the ministry in a press release. “The Lithuanian government must assume all the consequences that flow from it”, adds the press release, specifying that its actions “Have created a bad precedent on the international scene”.

Lithuania’s use of the appellation “Taiwan representative office” is a significant diplomatic gap, which has challenged a lobbying campaign from China aimed at isolating the autonomous democratic island on the international stage. Beijing added that Lithuania had “Abandoned the political commitment made during the establishment of diplomatic relations” with China, with reference to the “One-China policy”, according to which countries officially recognize the Chinese government rather than the Taiwanese government.

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Isolate Taiwan on the international stage

Lithuania said on Sunday that it “Regret” China’s decision. “Lithuania reaffirms its adherence to the ‘One China’ policy, but at the same time has the right to extend its cooperation with Taiwan”, including through the establishment of non-diplomatic missions, retorted his foreign ministry in a statement.

China is working to keep Taipei isolated on the international stage and refuses any official use of the word “Taiwan”, fearing that it will give the island a sense of international legitimacy.

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The announcement in July of the opening in Vilnius of this de facto embassy triggered the recall of the Chinese ambassador to Lithuania in Beijing. The Chinese authorities also demanded that Vilnius recall its ambassador to China, which has been done.

Beijing also halted freight trains to Lithuania and stopped issuing food export permits.

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The World with AFP