Breaking through Beijing’s resistance, Taiwan and Lithuania to open mutual representative offices

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Wu Chiu-sup announced Tuesday (July 20) that after close consultations between Taiwan and the Lithuanian government, both sides agreed that Taiwan will establish “The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania” in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. “. Wu Chiu-sup stressed that this is the first Taiwan representative office in a European country to be established under the name of Taiwan.

“A representative office under the name of Taiwan will make our European friends understand better that we represent 23.5 million Taiwanese, but there is no plan to promote the name change of the offices in Europe,” Wu said.

The Chinese government has always viewed democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to take it back even by force. China has always opposed official relations with Taiwan between countries that have established diplomatic relations with Beijing, but has acquiesced to the development of unofficial economic and cultural ties between them and Taiwan. Because of this, Taiwan cannot use the name of the Republic of China or Taiwan when establishing representative offices in countries that have already established diplomatic relations with Beijing.

The official name of Taiwan’s representative office in the United States is the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. However, Taiwan-friendly members of the U.S. Congress are currently trying to pass legislation to change the name of Taiwan’s representative office in the U.S. to the “Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.

Last August, Taiwan’s representative office in Somaliland was the first overseas representative office to be established in Taiwan’s name.

Taiwan and Lithuania have always had good relations. At the beginning of the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, Taiwan donated masks to Lithuania at a critical time when Lithuania lacked them; and last month when there was a breach in Taiwan’s epidemic prevention and the epidemic rebounded, Lithuania announced the donation of 20,000 doses of the new crown vaccine to Taiwan. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis had tweeted at the time, “People who love freedom should take care of each other!”

Wu said that in the future, there will be many mutually beneficial cooperation between Taiwan and Lithuania in the fields of trade, industry and technology.

The Lithuanian government has repeatedly said that it will set up a representative office in Taiwan this fall to expand into the Asia-Pacific market.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen described the establishment of Taiwan’s representative office in Lithuania as an “important diplomatic breakthrough” on Facebook. According to Tsai, the establishment of Taiwan’s representative office in Lithuania is “an important diplomatic achievement of special significance”, as it is the first time that Taiwan has set up a representative office in a European country after 18 years, following the establishment of a representative office in Slovakia in 2003. Tsai pointed out that this move will bring the friendly relations between the two countries to a higher level and make Taiwan deeply feel the strength of its democratic partners to support each other firmly.

Taiwan’s Executive President Su Tseng-chang told the media that he admired Lithuania, a small Baltic country, for its support of democracy, freedom and human rights in the face of enemies and at the forefront of foreign oppression, and Taiwan’s insistence on democracy, freedom and human rights in the face of the same situation.

Su said, “If you are not alone, you will have neighbors. He also said that the importance of Lithuania’s agreement to let Taiwan set up offices in Taiwan’s name is to let Taiwan use Taiwan’s name to go where the world can see.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) also issued a press release expressing support for Taiwan’s establishment of a representative office in Lithuania. The press release stated that “all countries should be free to develop closer relations and cooperation with Taiwan, a leading democracy, an important economy, and a force for good in the world.” The press release also stated that the United States will continue to support Taiwan in accordance with its “One China” policy as it strengthens its ties with the international community.

On the same day, however, Beijing Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian expressed strong dissatisfaction with the mutual opening of a representative office between Taiwan and Lithuania at a regular press conference. Zhao Lijian said that China firmly opposes any kind of official contacts between the diplomatic countries and Taiwan, and urged Lithuania to adhere to the “one-China principle” and abide by its commitment to establish diplomatic relations. Zhao Lijian also shouted at Taiwan, saying that Taiwan independence is a dead end and any attempt to create “two Chinas” and “one China, one Taiwan” in the international arena will not succeed.

Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, also called Taiwan’s establishment of a representative office in Lithuania an attempt to “seek independence”. She said, “No amount of tossing and turning can change the fact that Taiwan is part of China and cannot shake the international pattern of one China.”