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World: Taiwan opens Lithuania office as China condemns ‘egregious’ move

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China condemned the opening as an “extremely egregious act,” saying any move seeking Taiwanese independence was “doomed to fail”. “We demand that the Lithuanian side immediately correct its wrong decision,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. Beijing has also been angered by Lithuania ’s decision to open its own representative office in Taiwan , though no firm date has been set for that yet. Taiwan ’s foreign ministry said the opening of the office would “charter a new and promising course” for ties between it and Lithuania . There was huge potential for cooperation in

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Taiwan opened a representation office in Lithuania 's capital Vilnius Thursday, in a move set to anger Beijing. The self-governing island and Lithuania agreed in July that the Vilnius office would bear the name Taiwan rather than Chinese Taipei — a term often used in other China says Taiwan is part of its territory and doesn’t have the right to diplomatic recognition, although the island maintains informal ties with all major nations through trade offices that act as de facto embassies, including in the United States and Japan. Chinese pressure has reduced Taiwan ’s formal

Taiwan has opened a de facto embassy in Lithuania in a diplomatic breakthrough for the self-ruled democratic island that China, which described the move as “egregious”, claims as its own territory.

Eric Huang (third right), Taiwan's chief of mission at its just opened Taiwan Representative Office in Lithuania [Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AFP] © Provided by Al Jazeera Eric Huang (third right), Taiwan's chief of mission at its just opened Taiwan Representative Office in Lithuania [Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AFP]

Taipei announced on Thursday it had formally opened the office in the Baltic state – its first in Europe in 18 years – in defiance of a pressure campaign from Beijing.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the opening of the “Taiwan Representative Office in Lithuania” would “charter a new and promising course” for joint ties, noting the huge potential for cooperation, particularly in technology.

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BEIJING (AFP) - China on Friday (Nov 19) slammed the opening of a de facto Taiwanese embassy in Lithuania as an "extremely egregious act," saying any move seeking Taiwanese independence was "doomed to fail.". "There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China 's territory," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. "We demand that the Lithuanian side immediately correct its wrong decision.".

Taiwan opened a de facto embassy in Lithuania on Thursday in a diplomatic breakthrough for the Chinese -claimed island, brushing aside Beijing's strong opposition to the move . China has stepped up efforts to get other countries to limit their interactions with Taiwan , or cut them off altogether. Only 15 countries have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan . Beijing has also been angered by Lithuania 's decision to open its own representative office in Taiwan , though no firm date has been set for that yet.

“Taiwan will cherish and promote this new friendship based on our shared values,” the ministry said.

In August, China demanded Lithuania withdraw its ambassador to Beijing and said it would recall China’s envoy in Vilnius after Taiwan announced the name for the office. Its outposts elsewhere in the world are usually called Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices, with China chafing at any use of the word Taiwan for fear it lends a sense of legitimacy to the island.

China responded angrily to Thursday’s opening and threatened unspecified consequences.

“The Lithuanian government, in disregard of the Chinese side’s strong objection and repeated dissuasion, has approved the establishment of the so-called ‘Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania,'” Beijing said in a statement.

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Move angers China . In opening the representative office , Taiwanese diplomats hailed the potential for cooperation in industries such as semi-conductors, lasers and fintech. Lithuania is one of 15 countries that has diplomatic ties to Taiwan . In July, Lithuania agreed to permit Taiwan to open a representative office . Why Taiwan is falling in love with Lithuania . China has stepped up its campaign against Taiwan by pressuring other nations to halt interactions and sending sorties of fighter jets into Taiwan 's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), a swath of air space that a nation considers necessary to its

China on Friday slammed the opening of a de facto Taiwanese embassy in Lithuania as an "extremely egregious act," saying any move seeking Taiwanese independence was "doomed to fail." Taipei announced on Thursday it had formally opened the office in Vilnius using the name Taiwan , a significant diplomatic departure that defied a pressure campaign by Beijing. "The Lithuanian government, in disregard of the Chinese side's strong objection and repeated dissuasion, has approved the establishment of the so-called ' Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania ,'" said the

“The Chinese government expresses strong protest over and firm objection to this extremely egregious act. The Lithuanian side shall be responsible for all the ensuing consequences.”

China has put increasing pressure on other countries to limit cooperation with Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016, and only 15 countries now have formal diplomatic ties with the island.

Beijing has also been angered by Lithuania’s decision to open its own representative office in Taiwan, although no firm date has been set.

Many other countries maintain de facto embassies in Taipei, including several of Lithuania’s fellow European Union member states, Britain, Australia and the United States.

Taiwan’s new office will be headed by Eric Huang, who is currently Taipei’s chief of mission in neighbouring Latvia.

“We are very happy that we have the opportunity to be a facilitator and promoter for the relations between Taiwan and Lithuania,” Huang told Agence France-Presse news agency.

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“The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania officially commences its operation in Vilnius on November 18, 2021,” the foreign ministry said, breaking with the island’s tradition of calling its representative outposts Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices . Lithuania in July agreed to let democratic self-ruled Taiwan open a representative office That move prompted a fierce rebuke by China which withdrew its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded Vilnius do the same, which it eventually did. China also halted freight trains to Lithuania and stopped issuing food export permits.

On the significance of using the name Taiwan, he said it was “of course very meaningful”.

“We will not emphasise too much about the geopolitical context. As the representative office of my country, what I am focused on is to promote a substantive relationship.”

The opening of the Vilnius office is an indication that while Lithuania wants to engage more closely with Taiwan, that does not mean it is moving away from European Union policy on China.

The use of Taiwan rather than Taipei for the name of the representative office, “indicates that the intention on both sides is to reflect that bilateral relations are comprehensive including, economic, research and development, cultural, political aspects, which is possible and does not require nor indicate a move away from Lithuania’s adherence to the EU’s one China policy,” Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy, a postdoctoral researcher in Taiwan and former political adviser in the European Parliament told Al Jazeera. “Vilnius wants to engage China in a 27+1 format, and expand ties with Taiwan at the same time.”

China State Media Warns of 'Resorting to Military Means' Over Taiwan After Lithuania Tiff

  China State Media Warns of 'Resorting to Military Means' Over Taiwan After Lithuania Tiff China condemned Lithuania for opening a representative office for Taiwan and warned that it would take swift actions if other nations do the same. China views self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory under a 'One China ' policy and has continuously stepped up pressure for other countries to sever any relations that could threaten its claim.

Lithuania is one of a number of Baltic and central European countries that have shown they are prepared to seek closer relations with Taiwan — even if it upsets China.

Politicians in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also pushed for closer ties with Taiwan.

In 2019, Prague cancelled a sister-city agreement with Beijing and signed one with Taipei, while a high-profile visit to Taiwan last year by Czech senate leader Milos Vystrcil infuriated China.

Last month a delegation of Taiwanese officials visited Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, sparking anger from Beijing, while a seven-member delegation from the European Parliament made a historic trip to Taiwan.

In May, Lithuania announced it was leaving China’s 17+1 cooperation forum with central and eastern European states, calling it “divisive”.

“We believe that the economic relations established with democratic states are more sustainable and long-lasting, they are more based on the principle of the rule of law, therefore they are more in line with Lithuania’s interests,” Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters on Thursday.

With reporting by Erin Hale in Taipei

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