Picture taken on September 22, 2020, shows logistics facilities at the Port of Klaipeda, Lithuania, which is the biggest in the Baltic region. Photo: AFP / Petras Malukas

China on Thursday rebuked Lithuania after it said it would open a trade office in Taiwan later this year, further isolating the Baltic EU state from Beijing.

A “Lithuanian enterprise office in Taiwan will be opened by the end of the year, as part of our efforts to boost and diversify economic diplomacy in Asia,” economy ministry spokeswoman Skaiste Barauskiene told AFP.

China’s foreign ministry said it “staunchly opposed” the practice of setting up official institutions in Taiwan.

“We urge Lithuania to uphold the One China Principle and strictly abide by the commitment in establishing diplomatic ties”, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing.

Beijing regards Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize the island.

While Lithuania, a staunch US ally on NATO’s eastern flank, does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, its relations with Beijing have worsened in recent years over human rights and trade.

Lithuanian spy agencies on Thursday warned, in their annual report, of China’s attempts to buy influence and “gain access to critical infrastructure” – namely, IT sectors and transport hubs.

Last month, the nation of 2.8 million people banned the use of airport security-screening equipment made by a Chinese company over national security concerns.

Lithuania has also downgraded its participation in the China-led “17+1” grouping with Central European countries, sending only its transport minister to the latest summit chaired by President Xi Jinping last month.