China demands that Lithuania end its newly strengthened relations with Taiwan, which have already prompted Beijing to cut diplomatic relations with the EU member country
Zhao told reporters in a daily briefing that the EU member state should not “underestimate the steadfast determination, will and ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” .
China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing threatens to use force to bring the island under its control.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that relations would be downgraded to the level of charge d’affaires, a No.2 official at the embassy. China had previously expelled the Lithuanian ambassador and withdrawn its own Lithuanian ambassador.
Zhao said “it is obvious that Lithuania was pressured by some major powers to get to where it is today, but the decision was taken at the expense of Lithuania’s own interests”, a likely reference to the main rival. from China, the United States or major European nations. with whom Beijing’s relations have deteriorated recently.
Beijing refuses to have official relations with governments that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country and has reduced the number of diplomatic allies on the island to just 15.
However, many governments, including the United States and Japan, have official diplomatic relations with Beijing while maintaining extensive informal relations with Taiwan. Lithuania has announced its intention to open its own representative office in Taiwan.
The country’s move appears to show how Beijing’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy is causing a backlash in world capitals, expressed in part by a growing willingness to engage with Taiwan, which benefits from its high-tech economy and its strength. thriving multiparty democracy.
In Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, the Foreign Ministry expressed regret over China’s decision to degrade diplomatic relations. In a written statement distributed on Sunday, she said Lithuania respects Beijing’s policy towards Taiwan, but also has the right to expand its ties with that island.
“It is a victory for the free world that we can finally speak freely about freedom and name things with our own names. I hope that other European nations will follow this path, ”said Zygimantas Pavilionis, member of the ruling Conservative Party.
Lithuania also received support from the visit of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
“Lithuania is one of our closest partners and we are friends, so we hope that what Lithuania is doing is in the interest of this state. We strongly support all Lithuanian actions, including on this issue, ”Morawiecki said on Sunday in Vilnius.
Associated Press reporter Liudas Dapkus contributed to this report from Vilnius, Lithuania.