The Baltic state Lithuania blew up China’s diplomacy in Europe with the opening of a representative office for Taiwan (also called as the Republic of China). Taiwan and will soon exchange office with Lithuania enhancing economic & trade ties.
The last Taiwanese representative office in Europe was in 2003 in Slovakia. While Chinese pressure aims to reduce Taiwan’s alliance, but the bidding friendship maintained by Taiwan as informal ties and de facto embassy is with all major nations of the world.
The de facto embassy operates under the name China Taipei to not offend Beijing but the Lithuanian office will operate under the independent name “Taiwan”. This is a breakthrough for the foreign affairs of the self-governing island, as it is constantly under Chinese pressure and Lithuanian recognition wounds the ego of Communist Party of China.
This is not the first support rendered by Lithuania to Taiwan. Rather Lithuania is one of the sharpest critics of China especially with respect to Taiwan. On 9th Nov 2020 the new Lithuania government stated “Lithuania supports those fighting for freedom in Taiwan.” On 20th May 2021, the Lithuania Parliament passed a motion condemning the Uyghur Muslims genocide in the Xinjian detention camps and requested for a legal enquiry to the United Nation into the Uyghur Muslims genocide. Later on, 21st May 2021, Lithuania pulled out of China’s “17+1” a China and Central – Eastern Europe Countries initiative formed in 2012 in Budapest, as “it is no longer relevant to Lithuania”.
Foreign Minister of Taiwan, Joseph Wu stated “to further expand relations in Eastern European Region especially with Baltic state, the Taiwan and Lithuania government upon further consultation have agreed to set up Taiwan representative office in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The name of the office is Taiwanese representative office. Using the name Taiwan in our representative office can further allow our European friends to know that we represent 23.5 million Taiwanese.”
A wounded Beijing recalls Lithuania ambassador and hits back at Lithuania opposing official exchanges between Taiwan and Lithuania. Chinese warned Lithuania to follow “One China Principle” considering Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory. Ironically the CCP doesn’t follows its own principal of One China. Rather the CCP should warn its own policy makers in Beijing to stop butting finger in other countries matter and mind their own. Unfortunately, one doesn’t have decent behavioral expectation from the Chinese.
Chinese Foreign Minister Spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated “China firmly opposes any official exchanges between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with China. We oppose countries that have diplomatic relation with China establishing so called representative office in Taiwan. We urge Lithuania to adhere to the One China Principle that should be abided by commitment when we established diplomatic relations. We also warn Taiwan authorities that Taiwan’s independence is a dead end and any attempt to create two China internationally one China and one Taiwan will not succeed.”
The escalation tension due to deterioration in bilateral ties resulted in Beijing backed firms suspending services form Lithuania. As per sources the Chinese railway container transport company built on One Belt One Road policy, will suspend service for its Lithuanian clients.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying stated “the Lithuania side tries to distort concepts and disguise its challenge against the One China Principle”. In response Lithuanian official said “many of China’s state-owned enterprises were keen to show loyalty to the CCP. Losing the Railway won’t have a major impact on trade.
Lithuanian government gave it back to CCP by calling its ambassador back and stated “we do not respond well to threats”. Also, Lithuania was supported by the United States over Taiwan Representative Office and is a great source of reassurance making China to tread.
US Deputy Secretary Sherman stated “US is resolute in our solidarity with our NATO Ally and EU partner Lithuania including standing with then in the face of People’s Republic of China’s recent coercive behavior in response to Lithuania decision to develop mutually beneficial ties with Taiwan.” The approval of first Taiwan Arm Sale in Biden Administration is also a significant symbol of US not paying heed to the wounded Cat.
United States support to Taiwan even during Trump administration and now in Biden Administration was significant enough to make China realize of the support from the west and a threat made to one of the Baltic states will definitely create a challenge for China to co-exist its plans like One Belt One Road initiative in the Baltic and East European nations.