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China has decided to downgrade the diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of charge d'affaires, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Sunday.

According to a statement released on the Foreign Ministry's website, On Nov. 18, Lithuania, in disregard of China's strong protest and repeated representations, allowed the Taiwan authorities to set up a "Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania." This act openly creates the false impression of "one China, one Taiwan" in the world, renounces the political commitment made by Lithuania in the communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC), undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs.

"The Chinese side expresses its strong indignation and protest against this move, and decides to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the charge d'affaires level," it said.

There is only one China in the world and the government of the PRC is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, the statement said, noting the one-China principle is an overwhelming consensus of the international community, a widely recognized norm governing international relations, and the political foundation for China and Lithuania to develop bilateral ties.

It pointed out that the Chinese government has, out of goodwill to preserve China-Lithuania ties, repeatedly warned Lithuania against acting in bad faith. Regrettably, Lithuania has chosen to ignore China's solemn position and to disregard the broader interests of bilateral ties and the basic norms governing international relations. It has allowed the establishment in Lithuania of the "Representative Office" bearing the name of Taiwan, thus creating an egregious precedent in the world.

Given the fact that the political foundation for an ambassadorial-level diplomatic relationship has been damaged by Lithuania, the Chinese government, out of the need to safeguard national sovereignty and basic norms governing international relations, has no choice but to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the charge d'affaires level. The Lithuanian government must bear all the ensuing consequences, the statement said.

"We urge the Lithuanian side to immediately put right its mistake and not to underestimate the Chinese people's strong resolve, will and capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," said the statement.

"We also have this stern warning for the Taiwan authorities: Taiwan is never a country," it said, adding no matter how "Taiwan independence" forces try to misrepresent facts and confound black and white, the historical fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China cannot be changed. Attempts to seek foreign support for political manipulation will prove to be a dead end.

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