Taiwan lauds Lithuania for standing up to China

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Lithuania sticks to plans to open trade office in Taiwan – minister

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VILNIUS – Lithuania is sticking to its plans to open a trade office in Taiwan, Economy and Innovation Minister Ausrine Armonaite said on Tuesday.

Her comment came after China recalled its ambassador to Vilnius over Lithuania’s deepening ties with Taiwan, and demanded that Lithuania withdraw its envoy to Beijing.

“We are seeking relations as equals with all states,” Armonaite posted on Facebook. “Our economic policy must continue to strive for the greatest possible diversity and diversification of markets, which will create more opportunities for Lithuanian businesses.”

“We will among 67 nations in the world that have their trade offices in Taiwan, and we are not abandoning these plans,” she added.

China’s Foreign Ministry says the decision to recall the ambassador comes in response to plans to open a representative office under the name of Taiwan in Lithuania.

Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “regrets this move of China”, but reiterated that Vilnius is determined to develop “mutually beneficial relations with Taiwan like many other countries in the European Union and the rest of the world do”.

Several weeks ago, Taiwan announced plans to open a representative office in Vilnius under its own name by the end of the summer.

Lithuania is also planning to open a trade office in Taiwan.

Lithuania in diplomatic row with China over Taiwan ’embassy’ agreement

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China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania on Tuesday after the tiny European nation allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy using its own name.

Beijing also demanded Vilnius withdraw its own envoy to China amid the growing diplomatic row.

Beijing’s demands are the latest in a series of angry diplomatic salvos against any nation seen to be building closer ties to democratic Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party claims as its own territory even though it has never ruled there.

In July, Taiwan’s foreign ministry announced it would set up “Representative Office” in Lithuania, confirming it would be the first office in Europe to specifically be called “Taiwanese.” Vilnius plans to open a reciprocal office in Taipei.

The move was hailed “an important diplomatic breakthrough” by Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, and supported by the US, which said “all countries should be free to pursue closer ties and greater cooperation with Taiwan, a leading democracy, a major economy, and a force for good in the world.”

But it raised heckles in China, which considers Taiwan to be its most sensitive territorial issue.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry accused Vilnius of severely undermining China’s sovereignty and said allowing the office to open under the name of Taiwan was done “in disregard of China’s repeated representations and articulation of potential consequences.”