China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to "chargage level" after it allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in Vilnius
China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to "chargage level" after it allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in the capital Vilnius.

"The Chinese government must downgrade diplomatic relations between the two countries, in order to protect its sovereignty and basic standards in international relations. The Lithuanian government must bear all the consequences arising from this," the ministry said. Chinese Foreign Affairs said in today's announcement.

According to Article 14 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, the heads of diplomatic missions are divided into three levels, in which the rank of chargé d'affaires is the lowest compared to the level of envoys and ambassadors.

China made the decision after the island of Taiwan on November 18 opened an office in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius with the name "Taiwan Representative Office".

China objected to the island's use of the term "Taiwan" for its name for fear of creating a sense of international legitimacy for the island, which Beijing considers part of its territory awaiting reunification. Taiwan's overseas representative offices are often referred to as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.

China said Lithuania's actions "set a bad precedent in the international arena", and accused the European country of "renouncing political commitments when establishing diplomatic relations" with Beijing, referring to Beijing. the "One China" policy, in which countries recognize Taiwan as part of Chinese territory.

Lithuania in July agreed to let Taiwan open a representative office named after the island, Taiwan's first facility in Europe in 18 years. China harshly criticized this decision, recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded that Vilnius withdraw the ambassador. China also halted freight trains to Lithuania and stopped issuing food export permits.

Only 15 countries in the world recognize Taiwan. The island still maintains representative offices with many countries and some countries also have similar offices in Taipei.

Taiwan's representative office in Lithuania is seen as the latest sign that some Baltic and Central European countries are seeking closer ties with the island.

In May, Lithuania withdrew from China's 17+1 cooperation forum with Central and Eastern European countries, calling it a "divisive" forum. Last month, a delegation of Taiwanese officials visited Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, a move that angered China.

China has always affirmed its goal of complete reunification with the island of Taiwan. Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have escalated over the past few years, after Tsai Ing-wen, who refused to recognize the "One China" policy, became the island's leader in 2016.

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