Lithuania summons Chinese envoy over diplomats' behaviour at rally on Hong Kong

A photo taken on Aug 23 shows an argument between Lithuanians supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests and counter-demonstrators during a rally in Vilnius.
A photo taken on Aug 23 shows an argument between Lithuanians supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests and counter-demonstrators during a rally in Vilnius.PHOTO: REUTERS

VILNIUS (AFP) - Lithuania on Monday (Sept 2) summoned China's ambassador over the involvement of embassy staff in an incident at a rally in Vilnius last month backing Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters.

Embassy staff "were involved in organising unlawful actions" when counter-demonstrators approached the rally, said the foreign ministry.

On Aug 23, more than a hundred Lithuanians linked hands in the capital's central square, in solidarity with Hong Kong activists holding a similar demonstration the same day.

Counter-demonstrators waving Chinese flags approached the rally in Vilnius, triggering a disturbance. Police later fined two Chinese citizens for disturbing public order.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Monday that some Chinese diplomats "were more active than they should be".

"Some diplomats crossed limits, (behaving in ways) that are incompatible with their diplomatic status," the minister told AFP.

"We expressed regret and urged them to make sure that similar actions are not repeated," he added.

 
 
 

The Chinese embassy in Vilnius was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

The Aug 23 demonstrations in Lithuania and Hong Kong echoed the famous 1989 pro-democracy "Baltic Way" mass protest against Soviet rule.

More than one million people linked hands - across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - to form a human chain spanning over 600km.

All three territories, Soviet republics at the time, were protesting against rule from Moscow. They won their independence two years later.