China downgrades relations with Lithuania after Baltic nation allows Taiwan to open office

China downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania after the European nation allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the city of Vilnius.

The south Asian nation downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania to “charge d’affaires” level, according to a statement by China’s ministry of foreign affairs.

Lithuania agreed that the Taiwanese office in Vilnius would bear the name Taiwan instead of Chinese Taipei, a term used by other countries to avoid offending Beijing.

“The Chinese government had to lower diplomatic relations between the two countries… in order to safeguard its sovereignty and the basic norms of international relations,” the statement said.

“The Lithuanian government must bear all consequences that arise from this,” the statement said, adding that its actions “created a bad precedent in the international arena”.

Not only that, but China also expelled the Lithuanian ambassador, reflecting its intense sensitivity over the status of Taiwan, which Beijing says has no right to conduct foreign affairs.

The country also withdrew its own ambassador from Lithuania, in addition to accusing the country of “undermining Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity.” It called on the Lithuanian government to “correct the mistakes immediately.”

Lithuania’s move reflects the growing interest among governments in expanding ties with Taiwan, which is a major trader and centre for high-tech industry.

Additional reporting by other agencies

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