Members of European and US parliaments have expressed support for Lithuania its diplomatic rift with China over closer ties with Taiwan.
Signed by the chairs of parliamentary foreign affairs committees of a number of countries, including the United States, Germany, France, the UK, and the European Parliament, the statement, released on Friday, condemns China's “political, diplomatic and economic pressure exerted on the Republic of Lithuania”.
“The interference in the internal affairs of a European Union and NATO state are neither welcome nor appropriate. Lithuania’s decision to withdraw from the 17+1 format and its intention to develop economic and cultural relations with Taiwan are similar to the sovereign decisions taken by other states,” the statement reads.
It also expresses support for Lithuania and “its aspiration to cooperate with China bilaterally and in full coordination with its European and transatlantic allies”.
“We also welcome the developing economic relations with Taiwan and urge Lithuania to maintain current course rejecting aggressive China’s behavior,” the joint statement reads.
In the statement, the lawmakers also call on their governments, the European Union, and other allies, “to extend full support to Lithuania as it sets out policies in the interest of its people and wider international community”.
Žygimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas Committee on Foreign Affairs, has expressed gratitude to his European and US counterparts for the support.
In a statement, he also “expresses hope that China will realize that the ‘divide and rule’ strategy [...] will not work this time”.
Earlier this month, China recalled its ambassador from Vilnius for consultations amid a deepening rift with Vilnius over its ties with Taiwan, and China also urged Lithuania to do the same.
China's Foreign Ministry said the decision came in response to Vilnius' plans to open a representative office under the name of Taiwan.
“Recently, the Lithuanian Government, in disregard of China's repeated representations and articulation of potential consequences, has announced its decision to allow the Taiwan authorities to open a ‘representative office’ under the name of ‘Taiwan’. The decision brazenly violates the spirit of the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Lithuania and severely undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese ministry said in a statement.
Earlier this month, US State Secretary Antony Blinken voiced his support for Vilnius. Bob Menendez, chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who also signed the latest joint statement, did so as well.