VILNIUS – A Taiwanese delegation led by You Si-kun, speaker of the self-governing island's parliament, is to visit Lithuania this week.
The visit is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Frederick Chang-Yu Ke, the third secretary of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, told BNS.
"The delegation of the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan will visit Lithuania from late Thursday to Saturday this week," he said.
The Board of the Seimas has given the green light for receiving the Taiwanese delegation at the Lithuanian parliament.
Ilona Petrove, spokeswoman for Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, the speaker of the Seimas, has confirmed to BNS that the heads of the Taiwanese and Lithuanian parliaments will meet over dinner on Thursday.
The Taiwanese delegation is also to meet with two vice-speakers of the Seimas, Radvile Morkunaite-Mikuleniene and Paulius Saudargas, and members of the parliamentary committees on foreign and European affairs, according to the Lithuanian parliament's agenda.
The Taiwanese themselves refer to the Lithuanian parliamentarians they plan to meet as "friends".
"They come here to meet friends in the Seimas of Lithuania and enhance bilateral exchange," Chang-Yu Ke said. "Therefore, President You will mainly meet good friends in the Seimas."
President Gitanas Nauseda and Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte are not scheduled to meet with Taiwan's parliamentary speaker, the Lithuanian officials' spokespeople have told BNS.
Experts say the program of the visit and the rhetoric of the Taiwanese indicate that Vilnius and Taipei are avoiding official contacts so as not to anger China.
"Such cautious naming, especially when a high-level delegation arrives and meets with high-ranking officials, is a common practice during Taiwanese officials' visits abroad, when they try to name the positions informally even in official statements," Raigirdas Boruta, an expert at the Eastern Europe Studies Center in Vilnius, has told BNS.
"This, of course, has to do with the fact that Lithuania does not maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. We should also bear in mind our conflict with China and our unwillingness to escalate it further," he added.
The Taiwanese Representative Office was opened in Vilnius last year amid deepening ties between Lithuania and Taiwan.
Beijing, which regards Taiwan as an indivisible part of China, saw the opening of the office with the word "Taiwanese", rather than "Taipei's", in its name as an attempt by the island to act as an independent state.
Following the opening of the office, Beijing downgraded diplomatic ties with Vilnius and imposed trade restrictions, prompting the European Union to file a case against China at the World Trade Organization.
Lithuania is planning to open its representative office in Taipei this year.