China has no right to interfere with Taiwan-Lithuania exchanges: MAC

11/21/2021 10:16 PM
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Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) Beijing has no right to comment on exchanges between Taiwan and Lithuania, which are a matter between the two countries and nothing to do with China, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said in a statement on Sunday.

The MAC, which is in charge of cross-strait affairs, released the statement after China announced earlier that it had downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania as its latest retaliatory measure over the latter's decision to allow the use of the word "Taiwanese" in the name of Taiwan's newly-opened representative office in the Baltic state.

The MAC denounced China's retaliatory measures against other countries for their exchanges with Taiwan as "barbaric."

The decision by Taiwan and Lithuania to open reciprocal representative offices and develop a friendly, cooperative relationship reflects a basic right for members of the international community, the MAC said.

"This is not an internal affair as described by China" but a matter between Taiwan and Lithuania, which Beijing has no right to comment on, it said.

The MAC called on Beijing to respect international norms and the cross-strait reality, and deal rationally with relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania was opened in the nation's capital Vilnius on Thursday as the Baltic state faces increased pressure from Beijing.

Taiwan typically uses "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office" or "Taipei Representative Office" as the name for its diplomatic offices in most countries, mainly due to the host countries' preference to avoid any semblance of treating Taiwan as a separate country in light of their "one-China" policy.

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of China's territories, has sought to impose a political cost on Lithuania for its decision to allow the use of "Taiwanese" in the name of Taiwan's office, seeing such a move as encouraging formal independence.

China's recent retaliatory actions have included recalling its ambassador to Lithuania and expelling the Lithuanian ambassador from Beijing, as well as suspending direct freight train services to the Baltic state.

In an official statement released on Sunday, China's foreign ministry said that Lithuania had ignored China's "solemn stance" and the basic norms of international relations.

The move "undermined China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs," creating a "bad precedent internationally," it said.

Beijing said relations would be downgraded to the level of charge d'affaires, a diplomatic rank below ambassador.

"We urge the Lithuanian side to correct its mistakes immediately and not to underestimate the Chinese people's firm determination and staunch resolve to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said.

"Taiwan is never a country" and no matter what Taiwan does, it cannot change the fact that it is part of China, the statement added.

Lithuania's Foreign Ministry expressed "regret" over China's decision, saying that allowing the opening of the Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania is based on "economic interests" only.

The Lithuanian government continues to uphold its one-China policy but at the same time has the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan, including allowing the latter to establish "non-diplomatic representation" in the country, as has been done by many other countries, Lithuania's Foreign Ministry said.

Lithuania economy and innovation minister Aušrinė Armonaitė announced last month that Lithuania's representative office in Taiwan is scheduled to open in early 2022.

(By Chai Sze-chia and Joseph Yeh)

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