China recalls ambassador to Lithuania over Taiwan

Irked by its decision to allow Taiwan to open an office in the Baltic country under its own name, the Chinese government wants Lithuania to recall its ambassador to Beijing. The Lithuanians are eager to cooperate with the Taiwanese. Lithuania is disappointed by the meagre benefits of closer relations with Communist China.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China has recalled its ambassador to Lithuania in protest against the Baltic country’s decision to allow the Taiwanese government to open a representative office in its capital, Vilnius, using the name “Taiwan”.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry made the announcement today asking Lithuania to recall its own envoy to Beijing.

This would be the first time for Taiwan to use its own name in Europe. In mainland China, this is seen as a violation of the “one China principle”. Chinese leaders view Taiwan as a "rebel province" and oppose any formal diplomatic ties between the island and other countries.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry expressed regrets over China’s move. However, Lithuanian authorities have made it clear that they are determined to develop mutually beneficial relations with Taiwan while respecting the One China principle, a policy adopted by many other European states.

Lithuania plans to open a representative office in Taipei by the end of the year. Its growing support for Taiwan has damaged its relations with Communist China.

Lithuania supports Taiwanese participation in the World Health Assembly, which Beijing is boycotting. 

Last May, Lithuanians decided to abandon the "17+1" – an informal group made up of China and 16 central and eastern European countries, 12 of which are members of the European Union – ostensibly because cooperating with China brought few benefits. 

Trade between the two countries remains unbalanced. According to United Nations data, Lithuania imported goods from China worth US$ 1.34 billion in 2020, compared to US$ 357 million in exports.

Speaking in February with Lithuania's Deputy Foreign Minister, Egidijus Meil┼źnas, AsiaNews had anticipated Vilnius' readiness to review relations with Beijing on the basis of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.