China downgrades diplomatic relations with Lithuania over Taiwanese Embassy

In a move that display’s China’s no-tolerance policy about its position on Taipei’s ‘territorial’ status, Beijing downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania on Sunday.

The Chinese move comes after Lithuania allowed Taiwan to construct a de facto embassy in the Baltic state’s capital Vilnius  under its ‘indpendent’ name.

China considers Taiwan, which is self-governed and democratically controlled, as an integral part of ‘One China. It considers Chinese Taipei i.e. Taiwan as its territory with no legitimate claim to independent statehood.

China has always maintained pressure on countries to downgrade or dissolve any independent diplomatic ties with the island, even if they are non-official ones.

Beijing had already started flexing its muscles with Lithuania when the European nation had allowed Taiwan to construct an office there, by recalling its ambassador in August.

Only a few nations have direct diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a violation of the ‘one China’ principle.  Lithuania will “pay for what it did,” China warned on Friday.

“Lithuania only has itself to blame; it will have to pay for what it did,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said during a daily news conference.

Interestingly for some time now, the USA has been seen working behind the scenes to encourage increased international participation of Taiwan on International forums specially from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, China sensing a change in the world’s approach towards Taiwan is formulating domestic laws to stiffle any notion of Chinese Taipei’s de facto independent existence.

It is framing laws that would render anyone who supports Taiwan’s independence criminally liable for life. In a statement earlier this month, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian indicated that those named on a list of pro-independence sympathizers would face the consequences.

Beijing had already enacted a controversial national security law in Hong Kong last year, aiming at limiting the global financial hub’s autonomy and strengthening its hold over it.