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13 Sep, 2022 15:24

Baltic state's ‘embassy’ starts working in Taiwan

The announcement came as China accused Lithuania of violating its sovereignty
Baltic state's ‘embassy’ starts working in Taiwan

Lithuania’s new representative office in Taipei has started functioning, the head of the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry’s European affairs department confirmed on Tuesday. The opening of Taiwan's office in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius last year prompted outrage from China, which considers the island as a part of its territory.

A recent visit of a large Lithuanian delegation to Taiwan, soon after the controversial visit of the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, led to further deterioration of its relations with China, but nonetheless Vilnius proceeded with its plan to open an office in Taipei.

“Mr Paulius Lukauskas, the first representative of Lithuania in Taiwan, successfully arrived in Taiwan in early September,” Remus Li-Kuo Chen, head of the European Affairs department at Taiwan’s foreign ministry, said.

On Monday, Lukauskas formally applied for accreditation, and therefore the new Lithuanian office is “basically” now operating, Chen explained.

However, he said, the office is still in the process of installing the equipment and conducting necessary “preparatory work” prior to an opening.

On Monday, during his visit to the island, Lithuania’s Vice Minister of Economy and Investment Karolis Zemaitis said that the representative office will open as soon as possible. Admitting that he is unsure if all the necessary preparations can be completed before the end of his visit on Friday, Zemaitis stressed that “the most important point is that the representative is already physically here and working.”

Last year’s opening of a representative office of Taiwan in Lithuania led China to downgrade its diplomatic ties with the Baltic country to the level of chargé d’affaires.

In August, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin described a visit of the Lithuanian delegation to Taipei as “a deliberate violation of [China’s] sovereignty and a gross interference in China’s internal affairs,” and threatened a stern response.

After Beijing imposed sanctions on Lithuanian Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Agne Vaiciukeviciute who headed the delegation, Lithuania’s foreign ministry issued a formal protest to China.

The exchange came shortly after the US House Speaker traveled to the island on August 2, a move that sparked a fierce reaction from Beijing. China considers visits by high-ranking foreign officials as violations of the ‘One China’ policy enshrined in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, as well as a number of official statements.