Taiwan and Lithuania could soon sign an air services agreement to facilitate the provision of code-share as well as regular flights between the two countries, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
The ministry issued the statement at the end of a five-day visit by a Lithuanian delegation led by Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agne Vaiciukeviciute.
The two countries have exchanged views on air and sea transportation issues, as well as the development of 5G applications, smart transportation systems and electric vehicles, the ministry said.
Lithuania expressed the hope that China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) would carefully assess the possibility of launching passenger and cargo flight services between the two countries, the ministry said.
The Baltic country has three international airports. As of June, it ranked No. 2 among European airports in terms of air passenger traffic recovery, data provided by the delegation showed.
“While we are optimistic about the prospects for establishing direct air services between the two countries, we have recommended that both begin by negotiating and signing an air services agreement first,” the ministry said.
“The demand for air traffic will gradually rise with persistent exchanges in trade and technology between Taiwan and Lithuania, which should facilitate the provision of code-share and regular flight services,” it added.
As the Port of Klaipeda, Lithuania’s only seaport, reported a drastic reduction in container throughput due to the Baltic state’s dispute with China over its relations with Taiwan, the delegation expressed the hope that Taiwanese shipping firms would use the port as a hub, help increase container shipment to the port, and invest in its facilities and logistics, it said.
The delegation also indicated that Lithuania would welcome Taiwan’s participation in port expansion plans and training personnel to manage offshore wind energy, it said.
“We have accepted their invitation to visit the Port of Klaipeda, and Taiwan International Windpower Training Corp (台灣風能訓練) will have further exchanges with the Lithuanian port authority on training personnel to manage offshore wind power systems,” the ministry said.
Aside from the transportation ministry, the delegation also visited the Ministry of Economic Affairs, passenger and freight automaker Tangeng Advanced Vehicles Co (TAV, 唐榮車輛科技) and electric bus manufacturer Tron Energy Technology Corp (創奕能源科技), the ministry said, adding that it signed a memorandum of understanding with TAV for potential partnerships.
The visit has sparked protests from Beijing, with Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) yesterday calling it a challenge to the “one China” principle and a “vicious provocation that undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
When Vilnius established relations with Beijing, it had “promised not to establish official relations and conduct official exchanges with Taiwan,” Wang said, accusing it of reneging on this promise.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a regular ministry news conference in Taipei that Taiwan and Lithuania are both “independent, sovereign nations that have the freedom to develop relations” with any country they choose.
“Lithuania has sent successive delegations to Taiwan this year. It is quite clear that it is not afraid of China,” she said.
Both countries have emerged from autocracy, and today stand together at the forefront of the defense of democracy, she said, adding that Taipei and Vilnius are working closely together to develop substantive bilateral exchanges.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates its sincere welcome to Lithuania’s establishment of an office in Taiwan,” she said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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