China sanctions Lithuanian minister over Taiwan visit | World News

China on Friday sanctioned Lithuanian Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Agne Vaiciukeviciute for her visit to Taiwan, the latest development in the ongoing diplomatic row between Beijing and the Baltic state over its support for Taipei.

Vaiciukeviciute arrived in Taiwan with a delegation on August 7 for a five-day visit amid intense military drills launched by China in protest of US House Representative Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island, which Beijing claims as its own territory.

“The visit tramples on the one-China principle, seriously interferes in China’s internal affairs and undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement late Friday .

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also suspended cooperation with Lithuania in the transport sector in retaliation.

“In response to Vaiciukevičiūtė’s flagrant and provocative act, China decides to adopt sanctions on Vaiciukevičiūtė, suspend all forms of exchange with the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Lithuania, and suspend exchange and cooperation with Lithuania in scope of the international road. transport,” the ministry said in the statement.

The Lithuanian minister’s visit to Taiwan was rare and highly publicized.

“Vaiciukeviciute led a delegation of 11 government officials and electric bus business representatives to Taiwan to deepen bilateral exchanges related to smart and green transportation, 5G communications and electric buses,” Taiwan reported News, an online newspaper, and added that the group met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, senior government officials and business representatives.

The Chinese foreign ministry last week cited the “communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Lithuania” as saying that the Baltic country recognizes the mainland government as “the sole legal government of China and Taiwan as inalienable part of Chinese territory”. , adding that, according to the agreement, Lithuania is obliged “not to establish official relations or enter into official contacts with Taiwan”.

Ties between China and Lithuania plummeted last year after the latter, a nation of about 2.8 million people, allowed Taiwan to set up a Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania, an embassy of facto, in the capital, Vilnius.

China retaliated by downgrading its diplomatic relations with Lithuania.

It was the first representative office of the island to be allowed to use Taiwan – and not Taipei – in the European Union (EU) to identify itself, a move that infuriated China.

In February, China stopped buying beef, dairy products and beer from Lithuania, with China’s General Administration of Customs citing “lack of documentation,” according to Lithuanian reports, as the reason for the suspension.

In August 2021, China demanded that Lithuania recall its envoy from Beijing and announced that it was withdrawing its own ambassador from the Baltic country over the same row.

Regarding the Lithuanian minister’s sanction, analysts told the state-run tabloid, Global Times, that by making the decision, “China has once again demonstrated to the world that it will not back down even an inch from the provocations that trample on the… The beginning of China sanctioning the Lithuanian official, and Lithuania could face further consequences, including the severing of diplomatic relations, if it continues down the wrong path.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as the Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously stationed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered various beats like health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.
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