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Lithuanian’s President Gitanas Nauseda says the name of Taiwan’s representative office was a “mistake”. Photo: EPA-EFE

Lithuanian president takes aim at government ‘mistake’ in Taiwan representative office row

  • Gitanas Nauseda says he regrets that the name of the office has affected ties with Beijing
  • He says he was not consulted on the decision
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the government’s decision to allow Taiwan to open a representative office using the island’s name was a mistake, wading into a controversy that has upended the Baltic nation’s relationship with China.

The criticism by the head of state in a radio interview comes after tensions between China and Lithuania triggered friction between Beijing and the European Union.

Taiwan opened the office in the capital, Vilnius, in November under the name of Taiwan, a move viewed by the Chinese government as a violation of its one-China principle.

Nauseda, who oversees foreign policy and represents Lithuania at EU summits, said both Lithuania and Taiwan were free to open representative offices that held no diplomatic status and regretted that “the name of the office has become the key factor that now affects relations with China”.

“I would think that, not the opening of the Taiwanese office, but the name of it was the mistake, something with which I wasn’t consulted,” Nauseda said in the interview with Ziniu Radijas on Tuesday.

China-Lithuania tension: German firms may have to shut Baltic factories

China responded to the opening by downgrading diplomatic ties with Lithuania, recalling its ambassador and allegedly halting clearance for Lithuanian exports, which prompted the EU to raise the dispute with the World Trade Organization. China has denied it is blocking Lithuania’s exports.

Lithuania pulled out its diplomats from its embassy in Beijing in December after the Chinese foreign ministry demanded the return of the envoys’ diplomatic identification cards.