Estonia ‘Playing With Fire’ on Taiwan Relations, Lawmaker Says

(Bloomberg) -- A senior Estonian lawmaker warned against the Baltic nation’s plan to allow Taiwanese officials to open an office in the country, saying the move risks provoking China and undermining regional security.

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The comments reveal a divide in Estonia’s ruling party over how much the nation of 1.3 million should risk its ties to Beijing with closer relations with Taiwan. The decision triggered a warning from China on Wednesday.

Toomas Kivimagi, a lawmaker in Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s Reform party and deputy speaker of the Estonian parliament, took issue with the decision to host the non-diplomatic office. He described his meeting with the Chinese ambassador earlier in the week, in which she told him that she may leave the country if an office were opened.

“There’s no point in playing with fire,” Kivimagi said in an interview. “It’s not smart for us to ruin relations with China. I don’t want to escalate the situation.”

China is one of few global actors that has sway over President Vladimir Putin, whose war in Ukraine has been forcefully condemned by Kallas’s government, said the lawmaker, who is chairman of the parliamentary China friendship group in Tallinn.

Read More: China Warns Estonia on Taiwan Ties as Baltic Tension Simmers

The Estonian government last week gave its backing for a potential future office under the name of the Taiwanese capital Taipei, emphasizing that it wouldn’t engage politically with Taiwan and that it continues to support the one-China principle. The decision came ahead of a visit by Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, to the region this week.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday that China opposes any official exchange with Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own, “in any form.”

Lithuania, another Baltic nation, triggered a diplomatic row in 2021 when it allowed a representative office to open under the name of Taiwan. Most countries that have relations with China tend to use the name Taipei for the office.

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