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China downgrades diplomatic relations with Lithuania because of ties with Taiwan

China downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania after the Baltic nation upgraded economic ties with Taiwan, a sign that EU member states risk retaliation by Beijing if they seek to deepen their ties. stronger relations with Taipei.

China said its decision to cut ties with Lithuania from ambassador to special zone level was in protest at the country’s decision to open a representative office in Taipei last week. A representative office is not a formal diplomatic relationship but a sign of a deepening relationship.

“This act openly creates the false impression of ‘one China, one Taiwan’ in the world, abandoning Lithuania’s political commitment in the joint communiqué on establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Chinese people, erode China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs,” China’s foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory and regularly opposes formal engagement with the democratically elected government in Taipei.

Lithuania said it regretted Beijing’s decision and reaffirmed its commitment to the “one China policy”.

The country’s foreign ministry added that relations are based on economic interests, saying it “has the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan and to accept and establish non-diplomatic representations to ensure the mutual understanding of Taiwan.” the actual development of such relationships, as many other countries have done”.

Beijing’s latest reaction to Lithuania comes in the context of broader trend of warming relationships between Central and Eastern European countries and Taiwan.

Vilnius believes it has been singled out by China even though most EU member states and Western governments have similar arrangements with Taiwan.

The establishment of joint representative offices with Taiwan has cause a recall of Chinese and Lithuanian ambassadors from their respective capitals.

“We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately correct its mistake and not underestimate the determination, will and strong capacity of the Chinese people in safeguarding sovereignty,” the Chinese foreign ministry said. and territorial integrity of the country”.

Taiwan is considered by many security experts and officials as a dangerous flash point between the US and China. Beijing has increasing pressure on Taiwan in the diplomatic, military and economic spheres since 2016 when the Democratic Progressive Party led by President Tsai Ing-wen came to power, replacing the more Beijing-friendly Kuomintang.

Gitanas Nausea, President of Lithuania, told the Financial Times in August that the Baltics would not back down. He added that while the country is committed to upholding democratic values, the approach “should not cause further stress”.

Vilnius has taken an increasingly assertive stance toward China in recent months. The government withdrew from the 17+1 group established by Beijing to trade with Central and Eastern European countries, condemned China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang and banned Huawei from using telecommunications infrastructure. their information.

Some governments and lawmakers are rethinking their relationship with China, as they grow increasingly fearful of Beijing’s authoritarian tendencies and disillusioned with economic opportunities in the major economy. world second.

A group of members of the European parliament visited Taipei this month to affirm support for Taiwan.

The Australian defense minister himself said that “inconceivable“That it will not support the US in its campaign to defend Taiwan.

China’s Foreign Ministry also issued a “severe warning” to the Taiwanese government about efforts to seek foreign assistance.

No matter how much the ‘independent Taiwan’ forces try to distort the truth and confuse black and white, the historical fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China cannot change”.

Lithuania is also facing heavy pressure from neighboring Belarus, where Alexander Lukashenko’s regime has attracted thousands of migrants to its border.

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