China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of charge d’affaires on Sunday, after it allowed Taiwan to open an embassy.
“The Chinese government, based on the need to protect national sovereignty and the basic norms governing international relations, has no choice but to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of charge d’affaires,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The decision came after Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province, opened its representative office, a de facto embassy, in Lithuania on Thursday.
The Chinese ministry confirmed that “diplomatic relations have been damaged by Lithuania.”
“This move creates a false impression that China and Taiwan are two countries, and this undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and blatantly interferes in the country’s internal affairs,” the statement said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed “strong dissatisfaction and protest” over the latest move, warning Lithuania of the consequences.
Beijing also urged the Lithuanian government to “immediately retreat, and not underestimate the strong resolve, will and ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“The one-China principle represents the overwhelming consensus of the international community and is a widely recognized norm governing international relations, as well as the political foundation for the development of bilateral relations between China and Lithuania,” the statement noted.
Relations between Beijing and Taiwan have been tense since 1949, when forces led by the “National Party” took control of Taiwan by force, following its defeat in the civil war in China, and the inauguration of the “Chinese Republic” on the island.
Beijing does not recognize the independence of Taiwan, and considers it part of Chinese territory, and rejects any attempts to separate it from China, and in return, Taiwan does not recognize the central government of Beijing.