China takes drastic action against 'bad' nation: 'FEEL PAIN'

China has stepped up its response to threats to its 'national sovereignty' in relation to Taiwan by downgrading diplomatic ties with Lithuania.

Beijing is enraged over the small European nation allowing Taiwan to officially open its de facto embassy, announcing relations had been downgraded to the level of charge d'affaires, a rung below ambassador.

"We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately put right its mistake and not to underestimate the Chinese people's strong resolve, will and capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," China's foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

China views self-ruled and democratically governed Taiwan as its territory with no right to the trappings of a state and has stepped up pressure on countries to downgrade or sever their relations with the island, even non-official ones.

Wang Yiwei, director of the institute of international affairs at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told state-run publication the Global Times China's stern move "aims to make Lithuania feel pain".

The foreign ministry says it has repeatedly warned Lithuania about "acting in bad faith".

China refutes any interference in Taiwan affairs and again on Sunday issued a warning to the rest of the world. Source: Getty
China refutes any interference in Taiwan affairs and again on Sunday issued a warning to the rest of the world. Source: Getty

Lithuania denies any wrongdoing

Lithuania expressed regret over China's move but defended its right to expand cooperation with Taiwan, while respecting Beijing's "One China" policy, and said its foreign minister would go to Washington to discuss trade and investment projects.

Beijing had already expressed its anger this summer with Lithuania — which has formal relations with China and not Taiwan — after it allowed the island to open an office in the country using the name Taiwan. China recalled its ambassador in August.

Other Taiwan offices in Europe and the United States use the name of the city Taipei, avoiding reference to the island itself. However, the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania finally opened on Thursday.

Beijing said the move has "grossly interfered in China's internal affairs" – a statement it regularly makes regarding affairs involving Taiwan as well as Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Yet Lithuania's Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said the move did not challenge the "One China" policy.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council denounced China's "rudeness and arrogance", saying Beijing had no right to comment on something that was not an internal Chinese affair and purely a matter between Taiwan and Lithuania.

The prime minister of Lithuania's larger EU neighbour Poland said on Sunday that it supported the stance taken by Lithuania.

The European Commission spokesperson said the EU executive "has stood by Lithuania in the face of sustained coercive measures from China" since the summer.

Chinese state media lambast US' influence

Taiwan has been heartened by growing international support in the face of China's military and diplomatic pressure, especially from the United States and some of its allies.

Washington rejects attempts by other countries to interfere in Lithuania's relationship with Taiwan, US Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya told a news conference in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Friday.

Washington has offered Vilnius support to withstand Chinese pressure and Lithuania will sign a $600 million export credit agreement with the US Export-Import Bank on Wednesday.

Mr Wang told the Global Times it was "ridiculous" for Lithuania to be a mere "running dog for anti-China forces".

On Sunday, the publication shared a cartoon by renowned Cartoonist Liu Rui depicting Lithuania walking off a cliff enticed by a bag of money held by the US.

In an editorial focused on the situation, the Global Times described Lithuania as a "flea under the feet of a fighting elephant".

The publication accused it of "selling its diplomatic soul" to the US.

With Reuters

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