Taiwan announced a new diplomatic mission in Lithuania last month, with its foreign ministry saying it would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office
China on Tuesday said it has demanded that Lithuania recall its Beijing envoy and announced it was withdrawing its own ambassador from the Baltic country following a row over Vilnius allowing China-claimed Taiwan to open a diplomatic office in the country.
China claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and expresses displeasure if countries around the world establish official ties with the island.
Taiwan announced the new mission in Lithuania last month, with its foreign ministry saying it would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.
It would be the first time the island’s name has been used for one of its offices in Europe.
The de facto Taiwanese embassy in New Delhi, for example, is called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in India.
Only 15 countries have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
In a strongly-worded statement on Lithuania’s decision, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Vilnius has violated the “one-China” policy.
Lithuania’s allowing the office to open under the name of Taiwan was done so “in disregard of China’s repeated representations and articulation of potential consequences”, and severely undermines China’s sovereignty, the 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,” the statement added.
As a result, Beijing will recall ambassador Shen Zhifei, while the European nation would have to withdraw its ambassador to China, Diana Mickeviciene.
“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 said. “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.”
The foreign ministry also warned Taiwan about furthering “Taiwan independence” through diplomacy. “We also warn the Taiwan authorities that ‘Taiwan independence’ is a dead end and any attempt at separatist activities in the international arena is doomed to fail.”
Lithuania said earlier this year it planned to open its own representative office in Taiwan, and has donated 20,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to the island, Reuters reported.
Last week, China “expressed firm opposition” to the US state department’s approval of an arms sale to Taiwan, and lodged “solemn representations” with Washington following the Joe Biden administration’s decision to sell arms to Taiwan.
China will take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation, the Chinese foreign ministry said.