The European Commission said it does not consider the opening of a Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania a breach of the EU’s “one China” policy, after Beijing downgraded its diplomatic ties with Vilnius because of the move.
“We have made clear in contacts with China and in public statements that this is predominantly a bilateral matter between China and Lithuania, but also since the summer, the EU has stood by Lithuania in the face of sustained coercive measures from China,” a European Commission spokesperson said on Sunday.
China downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania on Sunday, after Taiwan opened a “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania” in the nation’s capital on Thursday.
Photo: AFP / Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Taiwan’s representative offices in countries without formal relations mostly use the word “Taipei,” to avoid referring to the nation itself, which angers China.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte on Sunday said that the opening of the representative office, which does not have formal diplomatic status, should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
“Our government’s program says Lithuania wants a more intense economic, cultural and scientific relationship with Taiwan,” she said. “I want to emphasize that this step does not mean any conflict or disagreement with the ‘one China’ policy.”
Lithuanian lawmaker Zygimantas Pavilionis was quoted by the Baltic News Service as saying that the more pressure Beijing asserts on Lithuania, the more it would repel the free and democratic world.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday praised Lithuania for its “moral courage” in allowing Taiwan to open the representative office, despite mounting pressure from China.
Wu also denounced China’s reaction as “rude and unreasonable.”
The opening of the office is meant to enhance Taiwan’s relations with the Baltic state on various fronts, including economic, trade and cultural exchanges, he said on the sidelines of a legislative session.
Asked by lawmakers if the next step for Taiwan would be to seek to establish official diplomatic relations with Lithuania, Wu said that his ministry’s priority is to promote closer bilateral relations.
Wu said the office had just opened, and the next step for his ministry would be to lay the foundation for further practical exchanges between the two countries.
“Establishing official diplomatic relations is currently not the main focus of our work,” he said.
Taiwan has 15 diplomatic allies, and only one of them, the Holy See, is in Europe.
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