0318 GMT November 29, 2021
China earlier expelled the Lithuanian ambassador, reflecting its intense sensitivity over the status of Taiwan, which Beijing says has no right to conduct foreign affairs. China also withdrew its own ambassador from Lithuania, according to AP.
The Foreign Ministry said relations would be downgraded to the level of charge d’affaires, an embassy’s No. 2 official.
Taiwan and the mainland have been ruled separately since 1949 following a civil war.
Taiwan announced that it would open the office in July, its first new diplomatic outpost in Europe in 18 years.
Only 15 countries officially recognize Taipei over Beijing.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry accused Lithuania of “undermining Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity.” It called on the Lithuanian government to “correct the mistakes immediately”.
Beijing refuses to have official relations with governments that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.
Many governments, including the United States and Japan, have official diplomatic ties with Beijing while maintaining extensive commercial ties with Taiwan. Many maintain relations with the island’s government through trade offices that serve as informal embassies.
Lithuania broke with diplomatic custom by agreeing that the Taiwanese office in Vilnius would bear the name Taiwan instead of Chinese Taipei, a term used by other countries to avoid offending Beijing.
Lithuania said earlier it plans to open its own representative office in Taiwan.