Major Blow to China: Beijing Angry Over Taiwan Opening Office in Lithuania in Its Own Name

In a major blow to China, Taiwan has announced that it will exchange representative offices with Lithuania and the office will bear the name of Taiwan, rather than "Chinese Taipei".

The strengthening diplomatic relation between Taiwan and Lithuania has angered China and it has warned the Baltic country not to "send the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces".

The Name Game

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu announced that Taiwan would open a de facto embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania's capital. Name of the office would be "The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania," the first time the island's name has been used for one of its offices in Europe.

Taiwan President Tsai apologises to indigenous people, promises to look after their interest
President Tsai Ing-wen Reuters

According to the Central News Agency, the name Taiwan uses for its foreign missions in countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations is usually "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office," "Taipei Representative Office," or "Taipei Trade and Investment Office, likely due to host countries' preference to avoid sovereignty implications.

China's Negative Reaction

The recent development has not gone well with Beijing as it is not in accordance with the One-China policy. China's Taiwan Affairs Office said it opposed any country with which it maintains diplomatic ties having official relations with Taiwan.

"We urge Lithuania to abide by the one-China principle and not to send the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces," it said in a statement.

China has time and again warned Taiwan that if it seeks independence from China, it would mean a sign for the 'war'. PLA keeps on conducting military activities and deploying war planes near Taiwan and defend the actions by giving 'security' reason. Chinese incursions in Taiwan have increased significantly as the CCP undermines Taiwan's sovereignty.

Taiwan fishermen arrive at Chinese-controlled Taiping Island seeking resupply
A Taiwanese fishing boat set sail to Itu Aba, which Taiwan calls Taiping, Taiwan's sole holding in the disputed Spratly Islands, in protest against a tribunal's ruling on the South China Sea. Reuters

Beijing Pressurizes Various Countries to Not to Engage With Taiwan

Only 15 countries have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but many others have de facto embassies which are often termed trade offices, as is the case for the European Union, of which Lithuania is a member state, reported Reuters. In February, Guyana canceled permission for Taiwan to open a trade and investment office in the South American country under pressure from China.

Diplomatic Relations between Taiwan and Lithuania

The offices will seek to enhance economic and trade relations, along with cooperation in various other fields, the island's Foreign Ministry said. "Taiwan and Lithuania are both at the strategic forefront of defending democratic institutions," Wu said.

"I believe that through the close connection of shared values, the two countries' peoples can work together to play a positive role in the international community and contribute to world peace, stability and prosperity," he said.

The Pandemic Factor

A report published on the website of China Observers in Central and Eastern Europe (CHOICE) says that until recently, Taiwan (Republic of China, ROC) had not drawn much attention in the three Baltic states in general and Lithuania in particular. The report highlights that the 'pandemic factor' could be one of the reasons behind Taiwan-Lithuania ties.

"In April 2020, largely reacting to Taipei's exceptionally effective handling of the pandemic and the assistance that had been provided to Lithuania, around 200 Lithuanian politicians and public figures sent an open letter to the country's President Gitanas Nausėda, asking him to support the island in its bid to be fully included into the activities of the World Health Organization (WHO), despite Beijing's opposition", it states.

The country announced last month it would donate 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan.