VILNIUS – Taiwan on Thursday thanked Lithuania for setting a "historical precedent" and said it "will defend itself to the last day" as it congratulated the country on the Day of the Defenders of Freedom.
Lithuania is marking on Thursday the 31st anniversary of the Soviet crackdown on unarmed civilians in Vilnius on January 13, 1991.
"Just as the Soviets attacked press and television headquarters in Lithuania in 1991, today the Chinese Communists are using disinformation and infiltration to attack #FreedomOfThePress and other liberties in #Taiwan," Taiwan's Foreign Ministry posted on Facebook.
"Many of the Lithuanians who stood up for freedom that day, weren’t sure if they would emerge with their lives, but they understood the importance of standing up for their own freedoms."
"This sentiment resonates with the Taiwanese people and, as MOFA Minister Joseph Wu has said on many occasions, Taiwan will defend itself to the last day."
"We thank Lithuania for setting this historical precedent in the fight for freedom and we pay respect to the fallen on this solemn occasion."
Fourteen civilians were killed and hundreds were injured when the Soviet troops stormed the TV Tower and the Radio and Television Committee building in Vilnius in the early hours of January 13, 1991.
The Soviet Union used military force in its attempt to remove the legitimate government of Lithuania which declared independence on March 11, 1990.
Although the Soviet troops captured the TV Tower and the LRT building, they did not dare to attack the parliament building which was protected by thousands of unarmed independence supporters.
Lithuania has designated January 13 the Day of Freedom Defenders to honor the victims of the Soviet aggression.
Amid deepening ties between Vilnius and Taipei, Taiwan last autumn opened a representative office in the Lithuanian capital under its own name, sparking an angry reaction from Beijing, which considers the island part of its territory.
Lithuanian businesses say they have experienced difficulties in trade with Chinese companies due to the Vilnius-Beijing row.
Lithuanian politicians describe this as "undeclared sanctions" from China in retaliation for the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office.