While expressing regret at China’s decision to recall its envoy from Vilnius, Lithuania said it is determined to pursue mutually beneficial ties with Taiwan.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement, hours after China announced the decision to recall its ambassador from Vilnius.
The Chinese move comes in response to the Lithuanian authorities’ plan to open a Taiwan representative office in the country, local media reported on Tuesday.
Lithuania does not yet have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but it maintains increasingly friendly relations with Taipei.
Vilnius has been an increasingly vocal critic of China’s actions towards Taiwan, as well as in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
In July, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu announced that Taiwan would open a representative office in Vilnius.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday strongly opposed Vilnius’ decision saying “the government “decided to recall the Chinese ambassador from Lithuania and asked the Lithuanian government to recall its ambassador from China”.
Reacting to China’s decision, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said: “While regretting this move of China, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry takes this opportunity to reiterate that in line with the One-China principle Lithuania is determined to pursue mutually beneficial ties with Taiwan like many other countries in the European Union and the rest of the world do.”
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Earlier, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis in July had said the establishment of a representative office in Taiwan and other Asian countries is not intended to counter China but to reach out to the Indo-Pacific region out of national interest, Taiwan News reported.
Tensions between China and Lithuania have escalated in recent months. In May, Lithuania pulled out of China’s 17+1 cooperation forum with central and eastern European states.
Meanwhile, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has even urged other EU member countries to follow suit amid worsening ties between the 27-member bloc and China.
In May, the Lithuanian parliament termed China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority as “genocide”, and voted to call for a UN probe of the internment camps in the country’s northwest region of Xinjiang.