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China Threatens Lithuania Over Taiwan Office Opening, Says It Will 'reap What It Sows'

What measures China will take, Lithuania shall “wait and see” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday as he threatened the EU nation.

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Lithuania would “reap what it sows” as it disregarded Beijing's strong objection and repeated dissuasion and approved the establishment of the so-called “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania”, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday warned at a state press conference. Threatening the Lithuania of undisclosed retaliatory measures for opening the De facto embassy in Vilnius despite Beijing’s opposition, and repeated warnings about dire consequences, Zhao asserted that what measures China will take, Lithuania shall “wait and see” when asked by a reporter about China’s response with respect to the recent developments. 

“This act creates the false impression of ‘one China, one Taiwan’ in the world,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in rather stern tone on Friday.

The move, he stressed, “flagrantly violates the one-China principle, and renounces the political commitment made by Lithuania in the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China.” 

It is to be noted that Lithuania unilaterally withdrew from the “17 plus one” arrangement, a cooperation initiative between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries launched to bind PRC closer to countries in Eastern Europe, as well as promote business and investment relations. There has been, although, a general sense of discontent within the CEE countries with regard to the China-EU cooperation framework in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and geopolitical rivalry between Beijing and the United States. The 17+1 initiative is a China-led format founded in 2012 in Budapest.

'Immediately correct' wrong decision, demands China

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned that Lithuania's recent act violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs. China demands that the Lithuanian side “immediately correct its wrong decision,” Zhao said. He then threatened Taiwanese authorities saying, “We also have this stern warning for the Taiwan authorities: Seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ by soliciting foreign support is a totally misguided attempt that is doomed to fail.”

“Lithuanian side shall be responsible for all the ensuing consequences. There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” asserted Zhao. 

In a move denounced by Beijing as "an extremely egregious act," Lithuania on Thursday opened Taiwan's representation office in the Baltic state's capital Vilnius, a first in Europe in nearly 18 years despite China's defiant pressure. The office will be headed by Eric Huang, currently Taipei’s chief of mission in neighbouring Latvia. “Taiwan Representative Office in Lithuania” would “charter a new and promising course” for bilateral ties and promote mutual cooperation, particularly in areas such as technology, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement during the opening. “Taiwan will cherish and promote this new friendship based on our shared values,” the ministry added. 

While many foreign de facto embassies are functional in Taipei, including Lithuania’s European Union member states, Britain, Australia, and the United States, it would be, however, the first time that Taiwan's representative office has been established in Europe. Overall, Taiwan has just 15 formal diplomatic allies. Both the self-governing island and Lithuania agreed in July that the representative office would be named Taiwan rather than Chinese Taipei, stressing that the name Taiwan was “of course very meaningful”. Lithuania had refused to delve into the geopolitical context or succumb to Chinese belligerence. 

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