China warned Lithuania on Tuesday not to "send the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces" after Vilnius agreed to host the island nation’s de facto embassy.
The statement was issued by Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, according to Reuters,
Global Times, a Chinese state controlled tabloid, also reported that Beijing may resort to sanctions if Lithuania proceeds with the plans.
“Such actions by a very few countries were clearly encouraged by the US and some other Western countries," Huo Yuzhen, special representative of China’s Foreign Ministry to the 17+1 programme, told the Global Times.
Beijing considers Taiwan 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.
However, Lithuania has recently announced plans to open a trade office in Taipei and also host Taiwan’s representation in Vilnius. This comes on the heels of Lithuania leaving China’s 17+1 forum, which Vilnius officials say was divisive, and the parliament recognising the repressions against China's Uighur minority as genocide.
The moves were met with angry rebukes from Beijing officials.
Taiwan's representation should “be opened this summer,” Lithuanian Foreign Vice Minister Mantas Adomėnas told LRT RADIO, adding that the move was key to expand “economical, technological, and cultural connections”.
“Taiwan is a 21st, 22nd biggest economy in the world and it really is a country, which is exceptionally advanced technologically in the fields of biotechnology and lasers,” he said. “Therefore, it’s extremely important for Lithuania to expand this cooperation.”