China has downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania to the level of charge d’affaires after Taiwan opened a representative office in the Baltic state’s capital Vilnius. “In the light of the destruction of the political foundation to establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, China has to make the decision to safeguard its sovereignty and basic norms of international relations. Lithuania must bear all the consequences arising therefrom,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry in a statement released on Sunday.

The ministry called on Lithuania to immediately correct its mistakes and not to underestimate the strong resolve, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Taipei announced on Thursday it had formally opened the office in the Baltic state – its first in Europe in 18 years – in defiance of a pressure campaign from Beijing.

The Office was opened with Eric Huang, currently, Taiwan’s chief of Mission in Latvia, appointed as the nation’s first representative to Lithuania, reported Focus Taiwan citing a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) press release.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the opening of the “Taiwan Representative Office in Lithuania” would “charter a new and promising course” for joint ties, noting the huge potential for cooperation, particularly in technology.
“Taiwan will cherish and promote this new friendship based on our shared values,” the ministry said.

In August, China demanded Lithuania withdraw its ambassador to Beijing and said it would recall China’s envoy in Vilnius after Taiwan announced the name for the office. Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades. Taipei has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.