China has slammed Lithuania’s plans to open an economic representation office in Taiwan, urging the country “to stay true to the one-China principle”.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Vilnius should “refuse to be taken advantage of by Taiwan separatist forces, and avoid doing anything detrimental to bilateral political mutual trust”.
Lithuania has no official relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers to be part of China. Vilnius also backs the One-China Policy, the diplomatic acknowledgement of China's position that there is only one Chinese government.
Earlier this week, the Lithuanian government confirmed plans to open an economic representation office in Taiwan. Previously, the country’s parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs also agreed to leave China's 17+1 economic forum, with Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis later saying that it has brought “almost no benefits” and is used to “divide Europe”.
China’s 17+1 format, which includes countries in Eastern and Central Europe, aims to bring investment into the region, making it China’s gateway to Europe. However, critics say deepening cooperation with Beijing will harm relations with the United States, which is seen as the main security guarantor in the region.
According to the South China Morning Post news website, Wang said China had “taken note of the news”, adding that China has “every confidence in its prospects”.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign ministry welcomed Lithuania’s plans to open an economic representation office in Taipei.
“We have noticed the reports about this and we welcome any move or plan that would deepen our friendly relations with Lithuania,” said Joanne Ou, the ministry’s spokeswoman, according to the SCMP. “Regarding Lithuania’s reported plan to establish a representative office in Taiwan, we do not have additional information at the moment.”