China sparks major conflict in Europe amidst Taiwan’s fury

Moreover, Beijing recalled its own envoy from Vilnius in a striking illustration of the strength of feeling on the issue. Meanwhile, the United States has weighed in to express support, accusing China of “coercive behavior.

China sees Taiwan as democratically governed in part of its territory in accordance with “one China”, and is regularly angered by any move to suggest otherwise.

Taiwan announced its new mission last month, saying it would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.

The move marks the first time the island’s name has been used for one of its offices in Europe – normally only “Taipei” is used.

For example, Taiwan participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics under the name “Chinese Taipei.”

The dispute involves Ursula von der Leyen’s EU, Joe Biden’s US and Xi Jinping’s China

The Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted that Lithuania’s authorization for the opening of the office under the name of Taiwan had been made “in disregard of China’s repeated representations and articulation of potential consequences,” and had seriously compromised China’s sovereignty.

A statement explained, “The Chinese government expresses its categorical opposition to this decision.

“China has decided to recall its ambassador to Lithuania and has asked the Lithuanian government to recall its ambassador to China.

“We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately rectify its wrong decision, take concrete measures to repair the damage, and not go further down the wrong path.

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“China solemnly declares to the world that there is only one China in the world and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legal government representing the whole of China.”

Earlier this year, Lithuania announced plans to open its own representative office in Taiwan and donated 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the island.

Only 15 countries have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan – but many others have de facto embassies that are often called trade offices, i.e. the EU.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called China’s decision “disappointing.

He added: “We are considering our next moves.

“Obviously, we got the message, but we also declared our own message, that Lithuania will continue its policy because it is not only Lithuania’s policy that we are pursuing, it is also the policy of many European countries.”

In May, Lithuania also left China’s “17+1” platform to engage with Central and Eastern European countries.

In an email to Politico, Landsbergis said, “17+1 no longer exists, because for practical purposes Lithuania is absent.

“In our view, it is high time for the EU to move from a divisive 16+1 format to a more unifying and therefore much more effective 27+1 format.

“The EU is stronger when all 27 member states act in concert with the EU institutions.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular press briefing that the United States supports its European partners and allies in developing their relationship with Taiwan and resisting what he called China’s “coercive behavior.”

He added, “We stand in solidarity with our NATO ally, Lithuania, and condemn the recent retaliatory actions of the PRC.

China, which is committed to bringing Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary, has stepped up pressure on countries not to engage with Taiwan.

In February, the South American country of Guyana revoked an agreement for Taiwan to open a representative office there just one day after Taipei announced it.

Taiwan blamed Chinese “harassment” for the decision.

Tensions also rose with the United States last year after visits by several senior government officials, including former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Keith Krach, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment.