TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Legislators from all three Baltic countries met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ying-wen on Monday in a sign of further cooperation between the European Union countries and Taiwan.
Tsai said this is the first joint visit of parliamentarians from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to Taiwan.
She welcomed lawmakers to the 2021 Parliamentary Open Forum hosted by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
China claims that Taiwan is its own territory and rejects any attempt by the self-governing island to participate in international forums or establish diplomatic relations with other countries that would give it international recognition.
Tsai highlighted the values and experiences that Taiwan shares with the three countries.
“Taiwan and the Baltic states share a similar experience of breaking free from authoritarian rule and fighting for freedom. The democracy we enjoy today has been earned through hard work, ”Tsai said. “This is what we all understand the deepest.”
The head of the Lithuanian delegation, Matas Maldeikis, said he hopes for even closer ties with Taiwan.
“We are here to express solidarity with you. We hope that the soon opening Lithuanian trade office in Taiwan will help expand the partnership between Taiwan and Lithuania and promote closer relations with Taiwan and the entire European bloc, ”he said.
China’s foreign ministry condemned the visit by Baltic lawmakers on Monday, and spokesman Wang Wenbin issued a warning.
“We urge stakeholders to be careful in what they say and do and stop sending false signals to Taiwan’s independence forces,” the spokesman said.
Earlier in November, Taiwan opened a de facto embassy in Lithuania called the Taiwan Mission. Lithuania also plans to open a representative office in Taiwan.
In response, China lowered the level of diplomatic relations with Lithuania to a level below the ambassador, and also recalled its ambassador. Earlier, China expelled the Lithuanian ambassador from Beijing.
Associated Press video producer Liu Zheng from Beijing contributed to this report.