U.S. embroiled in spat between China and Lithuania over Taiwan office
Washington has suggested that Lithuania consider changing the name of Taiwan’s representative office in the capital Vilnius to help ease tensions between the Baltic states and China since the delegation’s inception.
Lithuania has involved in a spat With Beijing, because it allows Taiwan to open a mission, which is called the “Taiwan Representative Office” rather than the “Taipei Representative Office,” named after the capital of Taiwan – a term used by most countries.
China is asking countries to avoid language that suggests the self-governing Taiwan is a sovereign state.
U.S. diplomats approached Lithuanian officials about the idea of ??changing the name, according to several people familiar with the matter.They say Washington believed the choice of the name opened the door to Chinese coercion risk destruction Expand relations with Taiwan.
China has retaliated prevent imports from Lithuania and warned European companies such as German auto parts maker Continental not to use parts from the Baltic states.
The White House has denied that the administration had suggested changing the office name. “Anyone making other proposals does not reflect actual discussions between the United States and Lithuania,” a spokesman for the National Security Council said, adding that the United States had told Lithuania that it would support its sovereign decision.
“We respect and support the efforts of Lithuania and Taiwan to strengthen ties and pragmatic cooperation,” the spokesman added.
This Diplomatic Bank That’s a headache for Washington, which wants to help Taiwan strengthen its international influence without giving Beijing the opportunity to accuse the United States of violating its “one China policy,” under which Washington sees Beijing as China’s only legitimate government.
Taipei last year asked the U.S. to allow the listing of “Taiwan” name of the washington office, but the United States did not take action on this request.
The spat also divided officials in Vilnius. President Gitanas Nauseda called the name “Mistake”, while a foreign ministry poll last month showed that only 13 percent of Lithuanians supported the government’s China policy.
At a meeting this week, which included Nauseda in addition to the foreign minister and members of the opposition, business leaders said they had “sacrificed” for an unpopular policy. But Prime Minister Ingrid Symonette has been adamant the government will not budge.
“One of the big issues is that Taiwan doesn’t want to change its name, and there’s also a very powerful person in Lithuania who doesn’t want to change its name,” said one person familiar with the diplomatic discussions.
The Lithuanian foreign ministry said claims that the U.S. proposed changing the office’s name was “false” and a “disinformation campaign.” The Taiwanese embassy in Washington had no comment.
Lithuania has been outspoken in criticizing China for human rights violations.last year, it Exit 17+1, an informal group of Central and Eastern European countries with which Beijing wants to improve relations.
This week Nauseda highlighted tensions in Vilnius, urging the foreign ministry to reach an agreement with EU partners to implement the de-escalation plan.
Brussels has offered lip service to Lithuania but has yet to provide a formal joint response as it hopes to hold a summit with China in March. The EU has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the one-China policy, while saying it is “ready to resist all kinds of political pressure and coercive measures against any member state”.
While some believe the name change would be seen as a capitulation to Beijing, others say the dispute undermines Taiwan’s true achievements.
“Letting this crisis worse could lead to bad outcomes for Lithuania’s interests, and perhaps Taiwan’s,” said Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the German Marshall Fund, who added that China’s economy Coercion is not acceptable. “The opening of the new office and the rapid development of Lithuania-Taiwan relations is a huge win for Taipei, whatever they call the office.”
Taiwanese officials said they were unaware of the U.S. proposal. Some Lithuanian and EU officials had considered changing the name to appease China, but concluded that would not solve the problem, one of the people said.
“Once they start compromising on Taiwan’s name . . . it will make the Chinese feel that what they are doing is working and encourage China to put more pressure on Lithuania and other countries,” the Taiwanese official said.