(Beijing) The Lithuanian ambassador to China said she had been asked by Chinese authorities to leave the country amid a diplomatic dispute between Beijing and Vilnius over the island of Taiwan.
Posted on 08/12/2021 at 7:39 am
The case began in July when the Taiwanese authorities announced the opening of a representation in the European Union (EU) Baltic country.
China regards Taiwan as part of its territory as recaptured and refuses any official diplomatic recognition by the island authorities. The creation of such positions abroad under the name “Taipei Representative Office” (capital of the island) is generally tolerated.
In Lithuania, however, the title will be “Taiwan Representative Office,” a phrase that appears to give the territory state legitimacy and which Beijing sees as an attempt to promote Taiwan’s independence.
In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday the recall of its ambassador to Lithuania and asked Vilnius to call back its ambassador to China, Diana Mickeviciene.
“I had just arrived in Beijing […] when I was told that I was told to leave, “said last Wednesday evening in an email to AFP.
Like any traveler arriving in China, the ambassador is currently maintaining a mandatory 21-day quarantine. “I’ll leave as soon as this is over and I can move,” she said.
Lithuania earlier this week expressed “regret” at the Chinese response, saying it was “determined to develop mutually beneficial relations with Taiwan, respecting the principle of a single China.”
An argument that was brushed aside by Beijing on Wednesday evening.
“We cannot say that we respect the principle of one China on the one hand and that we have open official relations with the Taiwanese authorities on the other,” said Hua Chunying, a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy.
“China has the right and the duty to provide a legitimate and reasonable response” to this “serious attack on its sovereignty,” she said in a statement.
Beijing has increased military, economic and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen came to power from a traditionally militant independence party in 2016.
Ms. Tsai seeks to create a Taiwanese national identity that is different from China and refuses to recognize the 1992 Beijing-Taipei Consensus, which affirmed the principle of the unity of the island and the continent in “one China.”