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Taiwan lauds Lithuania for standing up to China

ROC Central News Agency

08/10/2021 10:12 PM

Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) Taiwan lauded Lithuania for standing up to China on Tuesday after Beijing recalled its ambassador from the country for allowing Taiwan to open a representative office there using the name "Taiwan."

In 72 countries where Taiwan has offices, 57 have no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Joanne Ou (歐江安), spokeswoman of Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said Tuesday.

The purpose of the nation's 110 offices abroad is to strengthen Taiwan's cooperation with host countries in the areas of economics, education, culture and people's welfare, as well as deepening people-to-people exchanges, she said.

"Taiwan's representative office to be set up in Lithuania follows the same goal," Ou said. "We hope to strengthen friendship between the two countries and contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the international community."

Ou lauded Lithuania's "resolute will" to defend freedom and its national dignity. MOFA will closely monitor how the situation develops, she added.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the main government agency that handles cross-strait affairs, condemned the Chinese government for its attempt to prevent other countries from connecting with Taiwan.

"The Republic of China is a sovereign country. Taiwan is never part of the People's Republic of China," the MAC said in a statement.

Republic of China is the formal designation of Taiwan.

It stressed that Taiwan, as a sovereign country and a member of the international community, has a right to engage in bilateral cooperation with other countries.

Earlier in the day, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it has decided to recall its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded Lithuania do the same due to the row over the Taiwan office.

On July 20, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced that Taiwan is opening an office in Vilnius, which will be named "The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania."

The name of Taiwan's 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.

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory and objects to interactions by the international community with Taiwan that may carry any sovereignty implication.

Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Beijing's move is regrettable.

It added that Lithuania is "determined to pursue mutually beneficial ties with Taiwan like many other countries in the European Union and the rest of the world do," in line with the One-China principle.

Dovilė Šakalienė, a parliamentarian in Lithuania, tweeted "we are NOT sorry for deciding to open Taiwanese representative office in Vilnius. #Taiwan #Lithuania ❤"

Lithuania's relations with Taiwan have appeared to improve since last year relative to those with China.

Taiwan donated 100,000 medical face masks to Lithuania at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In March this year, Lithuania revealed a plan to establish a trade office in Taiwan.

Two months later, Lithuania pulled out of China's "17+1" initiative and urged other European countries to follow suit. In June, Lithuania pledged to donate 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan.

Mantas Adomėnas, Lithuania's deputy foreign minister, told CNA in an exclusive interview last week that he hopes China realizes that it cannot bully other nations and it is a "wrong example" for others.

(By K.C. Chiu, Chen Yun-yu and Emerson Lim)


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