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U.S. backs Lithuania in spat with China over Taiwan office

ROC Central News Agency

08/11/2021 12:31 PM

Washington, Aug. 10 (CNA) The U.S. State Department on Tuesday said it "stand(s) in solidarity" with Lithuania amid a dispute with China over the Baltic state's decision to allow Taiwan to open a representative office there using the name "Taiwan."

At a press briefing, State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned China's "retaliatory" decision to recall its ambassador to Vilnius and to demand that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador to Beijing over the issue.

The move, which China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement earlier Tuesday, came after months of warming ties between Taiwan and Lithuania.

In June, Lithuania's government announced that it would donate 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan, citing the need for "freedom-loving people" to look out for each other.

On July 20, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced that the country will open an office in Vilnius under the name "The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania."

The name notably differs from those, such as the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office" or "Taipei Representative Office," that Taiwan's foreign missions typically use in countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations, likely due to host countries' preference to avoid sovereignty issues.

In its statement Tuesday, China's foreign ministry called Lithuania's decision to allow Taiwan to open an office under that name a "red line" that "severely undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

In his response to the dispute, Price said the U.S. supports European countries' efforts to develop mutually beneficial relations with Taiwan and to resist Beijing's "coercive behavior."

"Each country should be able to determine the contours of its own 'one China' policy without outside coercion," he added.

Meanwhile, the press office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio warned that Beijing's "punitive diplomacy" would not "silence democratic nations in their support for Taiwan, a shining example of democracy in the Indo-Pacific."

"Free nations, like Lithuania, have the right to engage with a fellow democracy. We must all stand up to the CCP's aggression," the office tweeted.

(By Stacy Hsu and Matthew Mazzetta)

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