By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
The Chinese government, which views Taiwan as a renegade province, warned it would downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania.
Taiwan’s new office in Lithuania bears the name Taiwan rather than “Chinese Taipei,” the name used by many foreign nations to avoid offending China.
This is the island’s first new diplomatic outpost in Europe in 18 years and comes after other Central and Eastern European nations made diplomatic moves in recent weeks.
Last month, China spoke out after a delegation of Taiwanese officials were granted visits to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania.
Taiwan has few allies with whom it has formal ties due to China’s pressure.
Lithuania’s prime minister defended her nation’s plans for greater engagement with Taiwan – a major supplier of semiconductors, lasers, and other high-tech industries.
“Our government’s program says Lithuania wants a more intense economic, cultural, and scientific relationship with Taiwan,” Ingrida Simonyte explained. “[But] I want to emphasize that this step does not mean any conflict or disagreement with the ‘One China policy.”
The One China policy is the diplomatic recognition of China’s claims that there is only one Chinese government. Yet, it is distinct from the One China principle, whereby China insists Taiwan is an inalienable part of one China to be reunified.
Amid the rising tensions, the United States offered its support to Lithuania to withstand Beijing.
However, critics say that while the U.S. and Japan have extensive commercial ties with Taiwan, they uphold official diplomatic ties with China and recognize its One China policy.
Taiwan currently has only had formal diplomatic recognition from 15 nations – most of which are small and poor countries in Africa and Latin America.