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Estonia to allow Taiwan office, China ambassador threatens to leave

Estonia ready to accept non-diplomatic economic or cultural representative office of Taiwan

Taiwan and Estonia flags. (Depositphotos image)

Taiwan and Estonia flags. (Depositphotos image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid reports that Estonia has agreed to allow Taiwan to open a representative office, China's ambassador is threatening to leave the country if such a move takes place.

After the Estonian government held a regular review of its China policy on Nov. 2, Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna later told local media that Estonia, "Just like many other countries of the European Union," is ready to accept Taipei's establishment of a local non-diplomatic economic or cultural representative office to promote relations, reported AP. However, he also emphasized that Estonia still adheres to the "one China" policy and will not develop political relations with Taiwan.

Tsahkna added his country considers it important to "revive relations with Taiwan in economy, education, culture, communication between civil society organizations and other such fields." He said Estonia looks to align its China policy with the EU, which considers Beijing "a partner, a competitor, and a rival."

In a sign of warming ties between Estonia and Taiwan, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) arrived in Tallinn on Wednesday (Nov. 8) as part of a tour of the Baltic nations from Nov. 6-12. While delivering a speech a Riga Stradins University, Wu called for stepped-up cooperation between the two countries "at a time when authoritarianism had become a systemic challenge to the international order," according to a ministry press release.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Tuesday (Nov. 7) that Toomas Kivimagi, chair of the Estonia-China parliamentary group, revealed that China's Ambassador to Estonia Guo Xiaomei (郭曉梅) had warned that if Estonia allowed Taiwan to open an economic or cultural office there under the name “Taipei," the ambassador would leave Estonia.

Kivimagi told one of the major local newspapers, Postimees, that during a recent meeting with Guo, she expressed concerns about Wu’s visit to Estonia on Wednesday and Tallinn's decision to allow the opening of a Taiwan representative office.

Kivimagi said that there was no need for great concern over Wu's visit and as a democratic national "it is not appropriate for us to say who can travel to Estonia and who cannot." However, he said that the opening of a representative office is "clearly a very serious problem and challenge here."

He warned that Guo made it clear that an establishment of a Taiwan representative office in Tallinn would "mean the departure of the Chinese ambassador from Estonia."

Tsahkna on Saturday (Nov. 4) said government members do not plan to meet with Wu, reiterating that Estonia adheres to the "one China" policy and does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country.

He said that he is willing to follow the example of other EU countries and agree to establish a non-diplomatic Taiwan economic or cultural representative office in Tallinn.

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said at a press conference that Beijing opposes any official interactions with Taiwan, urged Estonia to abide by the "one China" principle, and not allow Taiwan to establish "any organization of official nature."