Lithuania Diplomats Leave China Over Security Concerns
Lithuania has withdrawn all its diplomats from China over security concerns. However, the Chinese authorities had demanded that the EU country’s representatives hand in their diplomatic papers, insiders told business newspaper FT.
This led to fears that they would also lose their diplomatic immunity.
China and Lithuania are at loggerheads because Taiwan has opened an embassy in Baltic. This is sensitive because China sees Taiwan as a renegade province that must be reunited with the mother country. Taiwanese offices in western countries are often named after the capital Taipei to avoid conflict, but in Lithuania, the diplomatic post is called Taiwan.
The highest Lithuanian diplomat in China, Chargé d’affaires Audra Ciapiene, returned to Vilnius on Wednesday for consultations. The embassy is being controlled remotely; the Lithuanian authorities tell the newspaper for the time being. An insider told Reuters news agency that all 19 Lithuanian embassy employees and their families have since left Beijing.
Insiders describe the treatment of Lithuanian diplomats as a form of intimidation. “China is sending a signal to other European countries that draconian penalties will follow if you follow Lithuania’s example,” a Western diplomat in the Chinese capital said, according to FT. “We must make it clear that measures against one Member State are seen as steps against the whole EU.”