China has decided to recall its ambassador to Lithuania as the European country has allowed Taiwan to open a representative office there, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, signaling a sharp deterioration in ties between the two nations.
The ministry also said it has asked the Lithuanian government to withdraw its ambassador to China, criticizing its action as damaging the Asian country's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as urging it to correct its "wrong decision."
Last month, Taiwan said it would set up its effective embassy in Lithuania, the first of its kind in Europe in 18 years, amid continuing tensions between the Communist-led mainland and the democratic, self-ruled island.
The latest representative office is Taiwan's second in Europe. The first opened in Slovakia in 2003. The Vatican is the only European state with which Taiwan has diplomatic relations.
"The Chinese government expresses firm opposition" to the island's establishment of its representative office in Lithuania, the ministry said, adding, "Taiwan independence is a dead-end."
China and Taiwan have been separately governed since they split in 1949 as a result of a civil war. Their relationship has worsened under independence-leaning Tsai Ing-wen, who has served as Taiwan's president since 2016.
Beijing has been intensifying efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, seeking to chisel away a shrinking group of nations that maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
While pledging to build up his country's military, Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to the "reunification" of Taiwan with the mainland in a speech on the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party's founding on July 1.