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China downgrades diplomatic relations with Lithuania on Taiwan issue


China regards Taiwan, autonomous and democratically governed, as its own territory without rights to state traps, and has stepped up pressure on countries to degrade or sever their relations with the island, even unofficial ones.

Beijing had previously expressed its anger at Lithuania – which maintains formal relations with China and not Taiwan – allowing Taiwan to open its office in the country, and recalled its ambassador in August.

Taiwan’s representative office in Lithuania opened on Thursday. Other Taiwanese offices in Europe and the United States use the name of the city of Taipei, avoiding a reference to the island itself, which has further angered Beijing.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a blunt statement that Lithuania is ignoring China’s “solemn position” and basic standards of international relations by allowing Taiwan to establish its representative office in Lithuania.

This decision “undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs,” setting a “bad precedent at the international level,” he said, adding that relations would be downgraded to the level of charge d’affaires, a lower level than that of ambassador.

“We urge the Lithuanian side to correct their mistakes immediately and not to underestimate the steadfast determination and unwavering determination of the Chinese people to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

No matter what Taiwan does, it can’t change the fact that it is part of China, the ministry added.

Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name, and that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled it and is not allowed to speak on its behalf.

Taiwan was encouraged by the growing international support for it in the face of military and diplomatic pressure from China, especially the United States and some of its allies.

Washington has offered Vilnius its support to resist Chinese pressure, and Lithuania will this week sign a $ 600 million export credit deal with the US Import-Export Bank.

Only 15 countries have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Taipei could lose another ally to Beijing after the Honduran presidential election later this month, where a candidate backed by major opposition parties leads opinion polls.

If elected, Xiomara Castro has pledged to establish official relations with China.

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