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China is lashing out at Lithuania after the country reportedly allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy using its own name instead of acknowledging China’s claim over it.
China told Lithuania not to “send the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces” after Taiwan said it would open a de facto embassy, of which the United States was reportedly strongly supportive, as Reuters reported last month.
“China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said it opposed any country with which it maintains diplomatic ties having official relations with Taiwan,” per Reuters.
“We urge Lithuania to abide by the one-China principle and not to send the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces,” it said in a statement.
The set-up would be called the “Taiwanese representative Office in Lithuania,” which is the first time that Taiwan’s name has been utilized for one of its European offices, per Reuters. “Taipei” is typically the name that is used.
Lithuania’s allowance for the office to have the name “Taiwan” was carried out “in disregard of China’s repeated representations and articulation of potential consequences”, and intensely undermines China’s sovereignty, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
“The Chinese government expresses its categorical opposition to this move. China has decided to recall its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded the Lithuanian Government recall its ambassador to China,” it added.
“We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately rectify its wrong decision, take concrete measures to undo the damage, and not to move further down the wrong path.”
On Tuesday, an editor of the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party daily newspaper tabloid, reportedly wrote a scathing piece against Lithuania after it did not go back on its move to open the de facto embassy.
According to Newsweek, “Hu Xijin, who heads up the… Global Times, expressed some surprise at Lithuania’s resolve, which appears to have held in spite of the threat of a diplomatic fallout.”
“Hu lashed out at the Lithuanian government on Weibo, China’s main social media service, and carried the same sentiments into an editorial on the state-owned tabloid’s website,” the outlet stated.
“Lithuania is a crazy, tiny country full of geopolitical fears,” he wrote, accusing Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, of taking sides with the United States in opposition to China. The Baltic state “has gone the furthest on the anti-China path in Europe,” he said.
He added, “It is rare to see small countries like Lithuania that specifically seek to worsen relations with major powers.”
The written piece was reportedly published prior to the Chinese Foreign Ministry announcing its demands and stating its decision to take its ambassador from Lithuania.
Lithuania called China’s move “disappointing.”
“We are considering our next moves,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Reuters.
“Obviously we got the message but we stated our own message as well, that Lithuania will continue with its policy because it is not only Lithuania’s policy we are pursuing, it is also the policy of many European countries.”
During a news briefing, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the U.S. is in support of European allies and partners creating relationships with Taiwan and avoiding the “coercive behavior” of China.
“We do stand in solidarity with our NATO ally Lithuania and we condemn the [People’s Republic of China’s] recent retaliatory actions,” Price said.