The Taipei government will open its office in Lithuania’s Eastern European Union, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in a statement on Tuesday. The other Taiwanese diplomatic outposts on the continent are called “Taipei”.
“Lithuania has firmly believed in global values such as democracy, freedom and human rights and is a partner of Taiwan with similar mining,” Wu said. “Taiwan and Lithuania are both at the forefront of the strategy to safeguard democratic and free regimes.”
Lithuania, a country of 2.8 million people bordering Russia, has already backed Taiwan in other areas. She backed her bid to attend the World Health Organization’s annual policy summit at the World Health Assembly, Wu said, an issue that became a geopolitical dispute between major powers as the island successfully fought the Covid pandemic.
The Baltic nation has increasingly strained relations with China, which it angrily announced in March announcing its own office in Taiwan. He has also pledged to donate Covid-19 vaccines to the Taipei government, and has left a Chinese group set up to involve Eastern European countries.
The latest development is a setback for Beijing, which has for years sought to divide the 27-nation EU through its offerings to the bloc’s former communist countries. China has seen more pressure from some of these nations in recent times as the United States and its allies criticize Beijing for issues ranging from handling information about Covid-19 to the crackdown on Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang and activists. of Democracy in Hong Kong.
The Beijing-Taiwan Bureau of Foreign Affairs described the Lithuanian office as an attempt to gain independence and urged the Baltic nation to abide by China’s principle.
“China strongly opposes any formal relations between other countries and Taiwan and opposes the establishment of delegations in other countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday. “And we say it strictly at the beginning of Taiwan: Any attempt to build Taiwan’s independence or to create ‘a China, a Taiwan’ in the international community will only fail.”
Lithuania is pursuing a more decisive foreign policy slowly – providing shelter to opposition figures from neighboring Belarus after a violent crackdown there and calling for tougher action against the Kremlin to imprison its opponents.
Cooperation with parts of Asia beyond China has been part of the government’s plan since taking office in December, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Antomenas, who sees his country’s actions as in line with global opinion and part efforts to ensure that “world order” is maintained.
“I think our decisions represent the international political consensus among the nations of the free world,” Adomenas said by telephone Tuesday.
While hoping that relations with China would remain civil, he said there was “no reason” not to extend a humanitarian visa program currently available to dissidents fleeing Belarus and Russia to people seeking to leave Hong Kong. the next months.
The American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy, has issued a statement supporting the move by the government of President Tsai Ying-wen.
“All countries should be free to seek closer ties and greater cooperation with Taiwan, a leading democracy, a large economy and a power for the good of the world,” the American Institute in Taiwan said in a statement. “The United States remains committed to supporting Taiwan in a manner consistent with the ‘One China’ US policy, as Taiwan strengthens its international cooperation and addresses global challenges, including Covid-19, investment control and supply chain resilience “.
US closer ties with Taiwan in recent years have been a growing source of tension with China, which is claiming the islands and threatening to use force to seize them if necessary. The strained relationship has also affected Taiwan’s ability to supply vaccines even after the success of the Tsai government since the pandemic began.
I am proud to announce the opening of Taiwan’s representative office in Lithuania. We look forward to working… https://t.co/YjngcP8NoB
– 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) 1626759486000
Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with German Emmanuel Macron and German Angela Merkel in a bid to repair the ties. This was followed by a meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in Tashkent.
Over the past two years, Beijing has also slowly squeezed out Taipei’s few diplomatic allies, especially the smaller island states in the South Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean. Last summer, Taiwan set up a representative office similar to the one opening in Lithuania in the territory of the unrecognized government of Somalia in an effort to strengthen its declining number of allies.