Lithuania said Wednesday it was recalling its current chief diplomat in China and would operate the embassy remotely, as relations between the two countries suffer over Taiwan.

Audra Čiapienė. Photo: Lithuanian Embassy in China via Facebook.

“Lithuania’s charge d’affaires ad interim in China Audra Ciapiene returns to Vilnius for consultations,” Lithuania’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“In the absence of a substitute diplomat in Beijing, Lithuanian Embassy to China will continue its operations remotely,” it added.

The ministry said discussions were continuing on the operation of both the Lithuanian embassy in China and China’s representation in Lithuania, pending Beijing’s decision on whether to renew accreditation of the Baltic EU nation’s diplomats.

Consular services to Lithuanian citizens in China will continue to be provided remotely, albeit at a limited capacity, according to the ministry.

“Lithuania is ready to continue the dialogue with China and restore the functions of the embassy to their full extent once a mutually beneficial agreement has been reached,” it added.

Last month, China downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania and stopped issuing visas there in protest at Vilnius’s decision to allow Taiwan to open a representative office under its own name.

Beijing baulks at any official use of the word Taiwan lest it lend a sense of international legitimacy to the island, which China considers part of its territory.

Several Lithuanian companies and business leaders in December complained that China was blocking their exports as their goods were not clearing customs in the country.

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