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Lithuanian president says Taiwan office name was ‘mistake’

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Tuesday that it was "a mistake" to allow Taipei to open a representative office in Vilnius using the name Taiwan.

Presidential candidate Gitanas Nauseda smiles during the second round of Lithuanian presidential election in Vilnius, Lithuania May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins<br />

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Tuesday that it was “a mistake” to allow Taipei to open a representative office in Vilnius using the name Taiwan.

The representative office was opened in Vilnius in November, prompting a backlash from China.

“I think it was not the opening of the Taiwanese office that was a mistake. It was its name, which was not coordinated with me,” Nauseda told local radio Ziniu radijas.

“The name of the office has become the key factor that now strongly affects our relations with China,” he said.

Lithuania allowing Taipei to open a de facto embassy using the name Taiwan was a significant diplomatic departure that defied a pressure campaign by Beijing.

China has downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania in protest and Lithuanian companies doing business with China or in supply chains linked to China say they are facing trade restrictions.

Officials in the Baltic EU state call these “unannounced sanctions”.

“Unconventional measures against Lithuania have begun to take place. For this reason, we must be extremely active and send a very clear signal to the European Union that this is an attack… on one of the EU member states,” Nauseda said.

Beijing baulks at any international support for Taiwan lest it lend a sense of international legitimacy to the island, which it considers part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize by force if necessary.

Lithuania plans to open its own trade office in Taiwan in the first months of 2022.