China sanctions Lithuanian deputy minister for Taiwan visit

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The Lithuanian state emblem is on display at its embassy in Beijing, China, Dec. 15, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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BEIJING, Aug. 12 (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said Friday it had imposed sanctions on Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agne Vaiciukeviciute for visiting Taiwan, the latest development in Beijing’s diplomatic spat with the country of the European Union.

The foreign ministry said China would also suspend cooperation with Vaiciukeviciute’s ministry and transport cooperation with Lithuania, a small Baltic republic.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Transport and Communications said it regretted China’s announcement.

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“Beijing chooses to continue and intensify illegal actions against (an) EU member state,” the Lithuanian ministry said in a statement to Reuters.

“Not only is this not conducive to the development of China’s relations with the democratic world, but it also reverses Beijing’s own policy that hitherto the development of a mutually beneficial relationship with Taiwan, one of the world’s most progressive economies, has not hinders.”

China claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes foreign politicians visiting the island. Democratic-ruled Taiwan rejects China’s claims.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Saturday condemned the sanctions, saying they amounted to “irrational retaliation” by China.

“Taiwan pledges to continue to do its best to help Lithuania counter the unreasonable and arbitrary repression of the Chinese government,” the ministry said in a statement.

The recent strengthening of Lithuania’s relations with Taiwan has infuriated Beijing and led to a drop in Lithuanian exports to China to nearly zero in the first quarter of this year.

Vaiciukeviciute said on Twitter Friday that she had visited three cities and two seaports and had 14 encounters in Taiwan over a five-day period.

“A productive week in Taiwan, looking for more ways of LT Transport cooperation with TW sea, shipping and airline companies,” she tweeted, referring to Lithuania and Taiwan by their abbreviations.

Vaiciukeviciute visited Taiwan days after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did. In response to Pelosi’s visit, China launched massive military exercises around Taiwan, imposing sanctions on Pelosi and restrictions on trade with Taiwan.

When Jovita Neliupsiene, Lithuania’s Deputy Minister of Economy and Innovation, visited Taipei in June, she said Lithuania plans to open a representative office in Taiwan in September.

Lithuania is under continued Chinese pressure to reverse a decision last year to allow Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the capital Vilnius in its own name.

China has brought down diplomatic relations with Lithuania and pressured multinationals to cut ties with Lithuania.

In January, the EU launched a challenge to the World Trade Organization, accusing China of discriminatory trade practices towards Lithuania and arguing that this threatened the integrity of the bloc’s internal market.

China said it has always adhered to WTO rules and that the problem with Lithuania is political, not economic.

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing and Augustas Stankevicius in Vilnius; Additional coverage by Ben Blanchard in London; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Paul Simao and William Mallard

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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