China downgrades ties with Lithuania after Taiwan opens de facto embassy

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Enraged that Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a mission, China on Sunday downgraded diplomatic relations with it to the level of a chargé d’affaires, which could further damage Beijing’s relationship with the European Union as a tiny Baltic nation with less than three million inhabitants. influential member of the bloc.

“There is only one China in the world, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It states that the One China Principle is a general consensus of the international community, a widely recognized norm governing international relations, and a political basis for the development of bilateral relations between China and Lithuania.

“Unfortunately, Lithuania chose to ignore China’s solemn stance and ignore the broader interests of bilateral relations and the basic rules governing international relations. It allowed the creation of a “Representative Office” in Lithuania called Taiwan, setting a glaring precedent in the world, ”the statement reads.

“The Chinese government, due to the need to protect national sovereignty and the basic rules governing international relations, has no choice but to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of chargé d’affaires. The Lithuanian government must bear all the consequences, ”the message says.

Charge d’Affaires in diplomatic language means that the embassy will be headed by the head of mission in the absence of the ambassador. China has already recalled its envoy from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

“The downgrade marks a major setback in Sino-Lithuanian diplomatic relations, as the Chargé d’Affaires does not have full powers compared to the ambassadors. This indicates that the power of diplomats in both countries will be severely limited and affected, ”Director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies told the Global Times.

A similar decision could be traced back to May 5, 1981, when China downgraded bilateral diplomatic relations with the Dutch government to the level of chargé d’affaires after the Netherlands approved the sale of the submarine to Taiwan.

Observers say China fears Lithuania’s move could prompt other EU countries and smaller countries to take similar steps.

At the same time, Beijing also warned Taiwan.

“We also have a stern warning to the Taiwan authorities: Taiwan is never a country. As much as the forces of “Taiwan independence” try to distort the facts and mix black and white, the historical fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to the same China cannot be changed. Attempts to enlist support for political manipulation from abroad will turn into a dead end, ”the statement said.

View of Gediminas Street in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 19, 2018 (Reuters)

China, which claims Taiwan is part of the mainland and has escalated tensions by sending more than 200 military aircraft to the Taiwan Airborne Identification Zone (ADIZ) in recent weeks, has been in conflict with Lithuania over the past few months over its decision to resolve Taiwan to open a Representative Office.

Beijing recalled its ambassador from Vilnius in August and also asked Lithuania to recall its ambassador from China.

However, undaunted Lithuania went ahead and allowed the opening of a Taiwanese mission, which is considered de facto an embassy, ​​prompting Beijing to warn Vilnius of serious consequences.

“The Lithuanian side is responsible for all the subsequent consequences,” and it “will reap what it has sown,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned last Friday.

It all began in May, when Lithuania withdrew from Beijing-led 17 + 1 cooperation platform with Central and Eastern European states, calling it “divisive”.

In preparation for a diplomatic standoff with China, he moved closer to the United States, which, for its part, has increased its support for Taiwan to prevent threats from China in order to safeguard and defend its independent identity.

Lithuanian Economy Minister Osrine Armonaite said on Thursday that his country will sign a $ 600 million export credit agreement with the US Export-Import Bank as part of “bilateral coordinated action” to counter Beijing’s economic influence.

Beijing’s conflict with Lithuania comes at a difficult time, as China’s lucrative ties with the EU are under strain from Brussels’ allegations of human rights abuses by the communist giant in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet.

The EU previously withdrew from approving the China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI) as it supported US President Joe Biden’s call for joint opposition to Beijing’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong policy and called for an investigation into the origins coronavirusincluding a possible leak from a biolaboratory in Wuhan.

Lithuania joined other EU members, Belgium and Poland, in opposing the China-EU trade agreement, which was seen as a major setback for Beijing. In 2020, the volume of trade between China and the EU was $ 709 billion, which exceeds the volume of trade between China and the United States of $ 671 billion.

In addition, the 16-year rule of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, considered a staunch supporter of the EU’s close trade ties with China, has come to an end as she steps down from her presidency of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU). …



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