Lithuania announced Monday that it has opened an office in Taipei in order to boost trade, a year after Taiwan had inaugurated a de facto embassy in the capital of the Baltic EU country.
“I am happy that we were able to open this representative office,” Lithuanian Economy Minister Ausrine Armonaite told reporters in Vilnius, stressing Vilnius is not developing diplomatic ties.
Lithuania decided to use the name of the island’s capital, Taipei, to refer to Taiwan, in line with a more nuanced international practice to avoid angering China, which considers the island to be part of its territory.
The announcement of the opening of the mission comes hot on the heels of Taiwan’s decision to invest 3.5 million euros into a Lithuanian laser technology company.
Armonaite stressed Monday that her country “is not developing diplomatic relations” with Taiwan but rather “trade relations”.
“Lithuania is developing trade relations with different regions,” she added.
The full name of the mission is the Lithuanian Trade Representative office in Taipei, with its head appointed by the economy minister.
Relations between China and Lithuania have been tense since last year, when Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy under the island’s name, a departure from the common diplomatic practice.
In August, China said it would sever transport ties with Lithuania following the visit of Lithuania’s deputy transport minister to Taiwan.
Beijing also attacked the country’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the only senior official from an EU country to publicly support the trip to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In July, Lithuania had already incurred China’s wrath after hosting a Taiwanese delegation led by parliament speaker You Si-kun.
Meanwhile, a UK trade minister arrived in Taiwan on Monday for the first in-person talks since the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to boost ties with the self-ruled island, sparking a rebuke from Beijing.