China downgrades diplomatic ties with Lithuania

China has decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of charge d'affaires, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said on Sunday.

The move comes after Lithuania allowed Taiwan authorities to open an office in Vilnius using the name Taiwan.

"The Chinese government had to lower diplomatic relations between the two countries… to safeguard its sovereignty and the basic norms of international relations," the ministry said in a statement announcing the downgrade.

"The Lithuanian government must bear all consequences that arise from this."

It added that Lithuania had "abandoned the political commitment made upon the establishment of diplomatic relations" with China – a reference to the One China policy.

Lithuania said it "regrets" Beijing's decision to downgrade diplomatic ties.

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"Lithuania reaffirms its adherence to the 'One China' policy, but at the same time has the right to expand cooperation with Taiwan," including establishing non-diplomatic missions, the country's foreign ministry said in a statement. (Additional reporting by AFP)

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