This Wednesday, December 15, Lithuania evacuated diplomats from its embassy in Beijing. This is the latest episode in a conflict between China and Lithuania since the latter authorized the opening of a Taiwan representative office in Vilnius.

The main Lithuanian diplomats in Beijing left this Wednesday, December 15 for Vilnius in a context of deterioration of bilateral relations with China. According to a diplomatic source from the news site 15min, “diplomatic staff had to return due to uncertainty over their legal status”. And, “in such a situation, staff could be at risk to their safety”, continues the Lithuanian media.

Indeed, nothing is going well between this country of 2.8 million inhabitants and China, since the Lithuanian government authorized, last summer, the opening in the capital Vilnius of a representative office of Taiwan. . China, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory, immediately retaliated by expelling the Lithuanian ambassador from Beijing, and recalling its own ambassador. Subsequently, it stopped granting visas to Lithuanian nationals.

Last twist, Beijing seeks to modify the statute of the Lithuanian embassy in Beijing so that it becomes an office of charge d’affaires, a qualified change of “weird and inconsistent with the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations” by the diplomatic adviser to the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, relays Verslo zinios.

According to Gabrielius Landsbergis, the head of diplomacy, quoted by LRT, such a name change will have “various interpretations possible” for Lithuanian diplomats, “regarding the extension of the validity of their Chinese ID cards which basically guarantees their right to travel freely, to move freely in the city and the country”. However, he pointed out that the hasty departure of diplomatic staff “does not mean the closure of the embassy”, which will be maintained “from a distance.”

Czech solidarity

The Czech Republic and Taiwan assured Lithuania of their support. “The senators [tchèques] encouraged their Prime Minister to show solidarity and raise the issue at the European Council”, inform the site 15min. The positions of the President of the Czech Senate with regard to China are also very firm and in favor of closer cooperation with Taiwan.

As the European Council on 16 December in Brussels approaches, the diplomatic adviser to President Gitanas Nauseda, quoted by Verslo zinios, said he would discuss the incident. “We believe that there will be a discussion on how the European Union, and more specifically the European Commission, can help Lithuania in this situation,” she said.

Marielle Vitureau

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