China considers self-ruled and democratic Taiwan to be its own territory and has no right to be trapped by a state, and has increased pressure on countries to downgrade or sever ties with the island, even in unofficial countries.
Beijing expressed anger when Lithuania – which has official relations with China but not Taiwan – let Taiwan open an office in the country and recalled its ambassador in August.
The Taiwan representative office in Lithuania opened on Thursday. Other Taiwanese offices in Europe and the United States use the city name Taipei, avoiding allusion to the island, further angering Beijing.
China’s foreign ministry said in a scathing statement that Lithuania ignored China’s “serious stance” and basic norms in international relations by allowing Taiwan to set up its representative office. in Lithuania.
The move “undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs,” setting a “bad international precedent”, adding that the relationship will be downgraded to charge, one rank below ambassador.
“We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately correct its mistakes, and not to underestimate the steadfast determination and unyielding will of the Chinese people in safeguarding the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The ministry added that no matter what Taiwan does, it cannot change the fact that it is part of China.
Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name, and that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled it and has no right to speak out about it.
Taiwan has been bolstered by growing international support for it in the face of Chinese military and diplomatic pressure, especially from the United States and some of its allies.
Washington has offered to help Vilnius withstand Chinese pressure, and Lithuania will sign a $600 million export credit agreement with the Export-Import Bank of the United States this week.
Only 15 countries have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Taipei could lose another ally to Beijing after Honduras’ presidential election later this month, where a candidate backed by the main opposition parties is leading in opinion polls.
If elected, Xiomara Castro has vowed to establish official relations with China.