Slovenia’s plans to upgrade relations with self-governing Taiwan have angered China, which accused Taiwan of ratcheting up diplomatic pressure on the island to force it into political concessions.
Regarding the upgrading of relations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China was “shocked by this and strongly opposed to it,” but gave no immediate details on how Beijing would respond.
“It is a dangerous statement made by the Slovenian leader that overtly challenges the one-China principle and supports Taiwan independence,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and the People’s Republic insists it is the sole legal representative of the island, despite never having governed it.
Slovenia follows Lithuania’s move to allow Taiwan to open a representative office in its capital under the name “Taiwan,” rather than “Chinese Taipei” in a break with diplomatic convention.
Chinese pressure has reduced the number of Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies to just 14.
Beijing retaliated for Lithuania’s move by expelling the Lithuanian ambassador, and Lithuania has since closed its embassy in Beijing.
Taiwan responded by setting up a $1 billion credit program aimed at funding projects by Lithuanian and Taiwanese companies, as well as creating a $200 million investment fund to help the Lithuanian economy.
In his comments, Jansa said ties with Taiwan would not include an exchange of ambassadors, but would be at the same level as many EU nations maintain with the island.
Referring to Lithuania, he said it was “terrifying” how China was attempting to isolate small European nations, saying that would harm Beijing’s interests in the long term.
In Taipei, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou praised Jansa as a “friend of Taiwan for many years” who has visited Taiwan on multiple occasions.
“We would like to make a positive response to the establishment of representative offices, express a high degree of welcome and our sincere thanks,” Ou told reporters.