US lends support to Lithuania against China pressure

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as US President Joe Biden (not pictured) delivers remarks on the evacuation of US citizens and their families, SIV applicants and their families, and vulnerable Afghans, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 20 August 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Lithuania’s foreign minister on Saturday (21 August) and agreed on “bilateral coordinated action” to help the country withstand pressure from China over its decision to develop ties with Taiwan, Lithuania said.

China on 10 August demanded that Lithuania withdraw its ambassador in Beijing and said it would recall China’s envoy to Vilnius in a row over the Baltic state allowing Chinese-claimed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy there using its own name.

Lithuania envoy in Beijing to leave China over Taiwan dispute

Lithuania’s ambassador to China says she has been asked to leave the country, one day after Beijing demanded that Vilnius recall its envoy over allowing Taiwan to set up an office under its own name in the EU member state.

The spat erupted last month when Taiwan, which China considers to be part of its territory, said it was setting up a representative office in Vilnius under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Taipei” — an act Beijing interprets as a diplomatic insult.

Blinken and Gabrielius Landsbergis agreed “China’s unilateral aggressive actions and political pressure on Lithuania” were totally unacceptable, a statement on the phone call published by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on Sunday said.

The statement did not give any details of the agreed bilateral action.

In a separate statement, Blinken “underscored ironclad US solidarity with our NATO ally and EU partner Lithuania in the face of the People’s Republic of China’s coercive behavior”.

China considers democratically ruled Taiwan its sovereign territory. The United States is Taiwan’s strongest international backer and main supplier of arms.

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The United States plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems, including mines, cruise missiles and drones to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said, as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

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