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2021.12.02 14:20

Lithuanian MPs meet Chinese diplomat, express regret over Vilnius-Beijing tensions

BNS2021.12.02 14:20

Several members of the Lithuanian parliament met with Qu Baihua, chargé d'affaires of China, on Wednesday amid tensions between Beijing and Vilnius.

The Group for Inter-Parliamentary Relations with the People's Republic of China said in a press release on Thursday that the meeting took place on a “mutual initiative”.

Read more: Lithuania ‘deaf’ to Chinese calls to rename Taiwanese office, Beijing rep says

It was attended by Algirdas Butkevičius, the group's chairman and a member of the Democrats for Lithuania political group in the Seimas, and two vice-chairmen, MPs Valentinas Bukauskas and Artūras Skardžius of the Labour Party.

Butkevičius, a former Lithuanian prime minister, “regretted that relations between Lithuania and China at the current stage are not what one would like them to be and stressed that it is necessary to talk even if there is a difference of opinion on certain issues”, according to the press release.

Qu Baihua thanked the group for the opportunity to discuss relations between the two countries. He also assured the MPs that “China is open to dialogue and is ready to address any issues that arise”.

Read more: Lithuanian FM says Beijing ‘not very aggressive’, expects ties to normalise

Calls to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics were also discussed during the meeting. Butkevičius said that athletes “cannot be deprived of what may be once-in-a-career opportunity”.

China has been angered by Lithuania's decision to allow Taipei to use “Taiwanese” for the name of its representative office in Vilnius.

Elsewhere in the world, Taiwan's representative offices operate under the name of Taipei, in line with an international consensus that this does not run counter to the “one China” policy which prevents Taiwan from being treated as a separate state.

In response to the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius, China has officially downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of chargé d’affaires.

The Chinese embassy said last week that it was suspending the issuance of visas in Lithuania.

It said the move was due to technical reasons, but it came amid the ongoing crisis in Lithuanian-Chinese relations.

A delegation of six Lithuanian parliamentarians is currently visiting Taiwan: Vytautas Gapšys of the Labour Party, Matas Maldeikis of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Marius Matijošaitis of the liberal Freedom Party, Rūta Miliūtė and Lukas Savickas of the Democrats for Lithuania, and Dovilė Šakalienė of the Social Democrats.

Read more: Lithuanians sceptical about confrontation with China, but support Belarus policy – survey

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