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Taiwan opens de facto embassy in Lithuania, despite pressure from China

Taiwan opens de facto embassy in Lithuania, despite pressure from China
In recent months, China has signaled opposition to Taiwan's opening a Lithuanian office. In August, Beijing recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded that Lithuania recall its ambassador in Beijing.  File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The geopolitical row between China and Taiwan took a step further on Thursday when Taipei opened a de facto embassy in the Baltic nation of Lithuania, something that Beijing had previously warned against.

The Asian island, which China claims as a territory, opened the diplomatic office in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

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Although technically not an official embassy, the diplomatic office effectively serves as one in a country that does not officially have foreign relations with Taiwan. It's called the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.

The office will be headed by Eric Huang, Taipei's chief of mission in Latvia.

China claims Taiwan as a territory, while the island claims that it is an independent nation. The spat is at the root of the "One China Policy." File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
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In recent months, Beijing has signaled opposition to such a diplomatic move. In August, China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and demanded that Lithuania recall its ambassador in Beijing.

Lithuania has also agreed to open an office in Taiwan, but it's not yet know exactly when that will happen.

Taiwan's new office is its first new diplomatic outpost in 18 years.

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For decades, China has actively attempted to stem Taiwan's efforts as a sovereign island and has undertaken numerous efforts to exert control. The two both claim the name "China" -- with the mainland being known as the People's Republic of China, and Taiwan is formally the Republic of China.

Most countries have adopted the "One China Policy," under which they officially recognize only mainland China. Only 15 nations have formal relations with the island.

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