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China recalls ambassador from Lithuania over Taiwan office name
The flags of Taiwan and Lithuania (Reuters and AP photos). The flags of Taiwan and Lithuania (Reuters and AP photos).
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China said on Tuesday (Aug. 10) it was recalling its ambassador from Lithuania and demanding the Baltic nation withdraw its top diplomat from Beijing over its decision to exchange representative offices with Taiwan.
Lithuanian Vice Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas said last week that his country would open its office in Taipei by the end of the year and send a vice minister to attend the launch. Earlier, Taiwan had said its office would bear the name “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania,” a first for the island in a European country.
In a statement Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry said the use of Taiwan’s name for the office was the reason for its decision. It said it would not allow the “red line of safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity” to be crossed, a reference to the communist government’s claims over Taiwan.
The statement also warned Vilnius to “undo the damage” and to return to the right path, reports said. The ministry did not mention when Ambassador Shen Zhifei would leave Lithuania, or if the Baltic state’s envoy, Diana Mickeviciene, was returning home.
While Taiwan only maintains official diplomatic relations with 15 countries, dozens of countries have representative offices on the island. The planned name for its first office in Vilnius was believed to have led to China’s reaction, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.