China slams Taiwan parliament speaker's Lithuania visit

Lithuania's Speaker of Parliament Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen welcomes Taiwan's Legislative Yuan President You Si-kun in Vilnius on July 21, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

VILNIUS (AFP) - Beijing on Friday (July 22) voiced a "strong protest" against Lithuania for welcoming a Taiwanese delegation on a visit, claiming it violated the one-China policy.

The head of Taiwanese group called the European Union member "courageous" for having agreed to the opening of a de facto embassy of Taiwan in Vilnius last year.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory - even vowing to one day seize it by force if necessary - and regularly opposes any sign of international legitimacy for the self-ruled democratic island.

"China expresses its strong protest over and firm objection to this," China's diplomatic representation in Vilnius said in response to the visit. "China urges Lithuania... to abide by the political commitment of the one-China principle, not to send a wrong signal to the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces," the office of the charge d'affaires added in the statement.

Vilnius and Taipei say they are developing economic and cultural ties and do not have formal diplomatic relations.

Lithuania first irked China last year by allowing Taipei to open a representative office under the name of Taiwan, a significant diplomatic departure that incurred Beijing's wrath - downgrading Vilnius' relations and blocking its exports.

The head of the Taiwanese delegation, parliament speaker You Si-kun, had earlier said the visit was a way "to express our gratitude to Lithuania" for opening the representative office.

"We are impressed with Lithuania's courage and support for democracy," You told the Baltic news agency BNS on Thursday.

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