Lithuania hastily withdrew all staff from its embassy in China on Dec. 15 as tensions increased over the Taiwan issue. 

Lithuanian officials on Dec. 14 said its embassy would work remotely. 

Foreign Minister Landsbergis of the Baltic state said the diplomats were leaving for consultancy over changing the department’s name. Reuters cited a diplomat source that the departure was a response to “intimidation” from China.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania from embassy level to “representative” on Nov. 26. The move came as Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a Representative Office in this country. The country also allows Taiwan to use “Taiwan” instead of “Taipei” in its name.

Beijing has been openly discontent with nations and entities that potentially support Taiwan’s independence. The CCP has voiced readiness for war in reclaiming the self-ruling island.

Landsbergis stated that China’s unilateral decisions to change the name of a diplomatic unit in another country violate the Vienna Convention.

According to the Financial Times, the CCP has asked Lithuanian diplomats to hand over documents to reduce their diplomatic status. If they lose their diplomatic immunity, the diplomats could face security risks in China.

As Lithuania is a member of the European Union, Beijing’s pressure on the country also deteriorated China’s ties with the entire European Union.

European Commission spokeswoman Nabila Massrali: “We are monitoring this situation and are in close contact with the Lithuanian authorities.”

Nabila said the diplomats and their families were escorted out of China with members from the EU delegation.

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