US backs Lithuania as China puts on the pressure over Taiwan office
- National security adviser Jake Sullivan places call of support to Lithuanian prime minister, affirming ‘strength’ of ties
- Vilnius is under fire from Beijing over Taiwanese mission’s break with convention
China demanded last month that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador in Beijing and said it would recall China’s envoy to Vilnius after Taiwan announced that its mission there would be called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.
Other Taiwanese missions in Europe and the US use the name of the city Taipei, avoiding a reference to the island itself, which China claims as its own territory.
The White House on Monday said US national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte “affirming the strength of our bilateral ties”. It said they discussed efforts to deepen economic, diplomatic, and defence cooperation and that Sullivan “reaffirmed strong US support for Lithuania as it faces attempted coercion from … China”.
Earlier this month, Lithuania, a member of the US-led Nato military alliance, said it had recalled its ambassador from Beijing for consultations but its embassy in China was still working normally.
Lithuania said last month that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the Lithuanian foreign minister on August 21 and agreed on “bilateral coordinated action” to help the country withstand pressure from China.
China considers democratically governed Taiwan to be its most sensitive territorial issue as part of “one China”, and is regularly angered by any moves which might suggest the island is a separate country.