China stops issuing visas in Lithuania amid Taiwan row

VILNIUS (AFP) – China said on Thursday (Nov 25) that it had stopped issuing visas in Lithuania, as the two countries spar over Taiwan.

“Due to technical reasons, consular services will be suspended from Nov 25,” the Chinese embassy said in a statement.

“The date of resumption of services will be notified later.”

The move came after China downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania last week in protest against Vilnius’ decision to allow Taiwan to open a representative office under its own name.

Beijing baulks at any official use of the word Taiwan, lest it lend a sense of international legitimacy to the island, which China considers part of its territory.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday said Lithuania “has betrayed” the trust of Beijing.

“It will eventually pay the price,” he said.

The opening of the Vilnius office is the latest sign that some Baltic and Central European countries are seeking closer relations with Taiwan, even if that angers China.

In May, Lithuania announced it was quitting China’s 17+1 cooperation forum with Central and Eastern European states, calling it “divisive”.

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