BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday (Dec 16) that concerns over the safety of Lithuanian diplomats in China were groundless, a day after the country’s diplomatic delegation and their dependents left China in a hastily arranged departure.
Claims that Lithuanian diplomats feared for their personal safety, or that China forbade its citizens from working at the representative office, are “purely fictitious”, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular daily briefing.
Lithuanian authorities said on Wednesday they had summoned their top diplomat back from China for “consultations” and that the embassy would operate remotely for the time being.
Beijing downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania last month after Taiwan opened a representative office in the Baltic state’s capital.
Like most countries, Lithuania has formal relations with China and not self-ruled and democratically governed Taiwan, which Beijing views as its territory.
On Wednesday, a group of 19 people comprising embassy personnel and dependents left Beijing en route to Paris, a diplomatic source told Reuters. Another diplomat had called their departure a response to “intimidation”.
“The Lithuanian side also never raised the issue of personal safety to China,” Wang said.
“If the Lithuanian side does not face reality, if it does not reflect and correct mistakes but instead shirks its own responsibility, then it will only challenge bilateral relations even more.”
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