China is annoyed by Lithuania’s ties with Taiwan – calls Lithuania bully

Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Vilnius. Photo lrytas.lt V.Balkūnas

China is very angry with Lithuania’s decision to open a Taiwanese representative office in Vilnius. The Chinese embassy also held a press conference banning TV cameras. The embassy spokesman kept repeating that the Lithuanian authorities had made a mistake, violated the agreement with China, and suffered the consequences Mindaugas Vasiliauskas writes in TV3.lt.

Although it did not break off diplomatic relations altogether, the diplomat explained that China had left an opportunity for our politicians to correct the mistake and change the mission’s name. Lithuania is also being discussed in the Chinese media, which has begun to wonder where the Lithuanians got the courage and audacity to do so.

A small office in the centre of Vilnius has sparked an unprecedented diplomatic conflict between Lithuania and China. The establishment of a Taiwanese mission has angered Beijing, leading China to recall its ambassadors and leave only the lowest level of diplomatic representation.

The Chinese Embassy held a press conference yesterday to discuss China-Lithuania relations. The press conference was unusual, with no cameramen allowed and no video recordings. However, the demand made by the Chargé d’Affaires to the Lithuanian authorities remains the same: change the name of the Taiwanese mission to the Taipei mission.

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a convenient name for the Chinese, and there are representative offices in other countries. The embassy’s representative explained that Lithuania breached the 1991 agreement, which committed it not to question the One-China policy. However, the Asian giant did not hesitate to break off diplomatic relations altogether, saying that it was leaving the opportunity for Lithuania to correct its mistake and relations could return to normal.

“We also urge our Lithuanian colleagues to adhere to the One China policy and to refrain from any official contacts with the Taiwanese authorities. However, the demand made by the Chargé d’Affaires to the Lithuanian authorities remains the same: change the name of the Taiwanese mission to the Taipei mission.

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a convenient name for the Chinese, and there are representative offices in other countries. The embassy’s representative explained that Lithuania was in breach of the 1991 agreement, which committed it not to question China’s one policy. However, the Asian giant did not hesitate to break off diplomatic relations altogether, saying that it was leaving the opportunity for Lithuania to correct its mistake and relations could return to normal.

“We also urge our Lithuanian colleagues to adhere to the ‘one China’ policy and to refrain from any official contacts with the Taiwanese authorities. However, we have no objection whatsoever to non-governmental business contacts,” said Qu Baihua, Interim Charge d’Affaires at the Chinese Embassy.

However, when asked what will happen if Lithuania does not change its mind, he said nothing will happen, but it will not get better either. And he threatened that the consequences of such a political decision would still be felt.

“You can imagine. The political foundation is badly eroded, and many areas will suffer as a result, politically, economically and culturally. The tourism sector will also be affected,” says Q. Baihua.

He stressed that some Lithuanian businessmen have already felt the difficulties in China and that this is a natural Chinese response as their feelings have been hurt.

“Some Lithuanian politicians are maliciously spreading rumours and slander, which only shows people their dishonesty. The betrayal of Lithuania is truly disgusting, but what is even more pathetic is that they are indulging in sophistry after all the mistakes, saying that black is white. The international community and history will eventually come to the right decision,” said Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.

Official Beijing is also facing criticism at home. On the one hand, there is pressure to show Lithuania its place; on the other hand, there are questions about whether the die is cast.

“A part of the Chinese public thinks that this move may have been partly necessary, but it was a bit excessive because the more China presses Lithuania, the more the anti-Chinese sentiment inside the EU will grow,” says analyst Raigirdas Boruta.

Lithuania is now often mentioned in the Chinese press as well, says Raigirdas Boruta. There are discussions about how we should be punished and how to show the world that such actions are not tolerated. There is no shortage of attempts to understand who we are as a country.

“The whole history from the very beginning of Lithuania’s statehood has been examined to understand where the determination and courage of this dwarf state came from. We have been called international norm breakers, international hooligans; there are all sorts of epithets,” he says.

Official Beijing also resents the American decision to invite Taiwanese representatives to the democracy forum.

The Chinese embassy spokesman also speculated that Lithuania had done this to please the Americans. But, at the same time, he pointed out that we cannot survive without the world’s second-largest economy and that China’s influence stretches across the globe.

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