Taiwan is working to set up a representative office in the Estonian capital as it seeks to expand its presence in the Baltic states to counter Beijing’s long-time efforts to isolate the island.
The move comes after Estonia’s cabinet decided to revise the country’s approach to Taiwan and allow it to open a non-diplomatic representative office in Tallinn, its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.
“Just like many other countries of the European Union, Estonia is also ready to accept the establishment of a non-diplomatic economic or cultural representation of Taipei in order to promote the respective relations,” Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna was quoted as saying.
Tsahkna did not indicate when the office would be set up but stressed that Estonia would adhere to the one-China policy when it came to political relations.
“Estonia does not recognize Taiwan as a country. As part of the one-China policy, we will not develop political relations with Taiwan,” he said.
“At the same time, we consider it important to revive relations with Taiwan in economy, education, culture, communication between civil society organizations and other such fields.”
Tsahkna said in the country’s relations with Beijing, Estonia was aspiring for a unified policy with the European Union and the development of the widest possible cooperation with other like-minded partners, especially transatlantic allies.
He said as an EU member, Estonia adhered to the bloc’s approach of treating Beijing as “a partner, a competitor and a rival” though his country was keen to maintain “constructive relations with Beijing … to address various global and regional challenges, and to settle differences peacefully”.
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Beijing – which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province to be taken under mainland Chinese control, by force if necessary – has stepped up pressure on the self-ruled island in recent years, including with a diplomatic squeeze that has left Taipei with just 13 allies.
It has warned countries with which it has formal relations against breaching their one-China policy and having official contact with Taipei. Most countries do not see Taiwan as an independent state, but many are opposed to any change of status quo by force.
Beijing has yet to respond to the comments made by Tsahkna, whose country in 2022 joined Latvia to leave China’s economic grouping with Central and Eastern Europe that was originally known as “17+1”.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed that the establishment of the new office in Tallinn was being discussed. “So far, the two sides have yet to reach a consensus,” ministry spokesman Jeff Liu said.
He did not say if the matter would be on the agenda during Foreign Minister Joseph Wu’s visit to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this week. During the week-long trip, which began on Monday, Wu will attend forums and give speeches to underscore Taiwan’s resolve to safeguard democracy with like-minded countries, according to the ministry.
Liu said Taiwan’s ties with the three Baltic states had expanded in recent years. “The foreign ministry maintains an open mind on discussing the possibilities of further developing and deepening ties with related parties,” he said.
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