Sunday 21 November 2021
Diplomacy scolding for Lithuania
China draws conclusions in the Taiwan dispute
The opening of a Taiwan diplomatic mission in Lithuania is an affront for Beijing to its “one-China policy”. After threats, China is now serious and downgrading diplomatic relations with Lithuania. The EU country reaffirms its position despite sanctions.
China is downgrading diplomatic relations with EU country Lithuania over a dispute over Taiwan. Relations would be scaled down to the chargé d’affaires in order to preserve China’s “sovereignty and the basic norms of international relations,” the Foreign Ministry said in Beijing.
A few days ago, Taiwan opened an agency under its own name in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, thereby making clear its claim to independence from Beijing. China condemns this because it regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, but it is “an inalienable part of Chinese territory”. A statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday said the opening of an official Taiwan consulate abroad was an “extremely outrageous act.” Beijing demanded “that the Lithuanian side immediately correct this wrong decision”.
Vilnius said it regretted Beijing’s move. “Lithuania reaffirms its adherence to the ‘one-China policy’,” said the Foreign Ministry. However, the country has “the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan, including the establishment of non-diplomatic missions.”
China has already imposed economic sanctions
When Lithuania basically allowed Taiwan to operate under its own name in Vilnius in July, China withdrew its ambassador and called on the Lithuanian government to also call back its ambassador in Beijing. In addition, China stopped freight trains to Lithuania and no longer granted the country import permits for food.
Fearing Chinese reprisals, Taiwan commonly refers to its de facto embassies abroad as the “Taipei Mission”. Conversely, for example, Germany’s diplomatic mission in the Taiwanese capital Taipei is not officially an embassy either, but is referred to as the “German Institute”. However, on Thursday Taipei announced that “Taiwan’s Representative Office” in Vilnius had “officially started operations”.
After decades of pressure from Beijing, only a few countries officially recognize Taiwan as a state. Recently, however, other Eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia had moved closer to Taipei again despite China’s protests. In the past few months, tensions between Beijing and Taipei had increased significantly again. Beijing threatens to unite the democratically governed island with the communist mainland by force if necessary. The protective power of the USA is behind the government in Taipei.