Lithuania says Chinese diplomats interfered at pro-Hong Kong protest


  • World
  • Monday, 02 Sep 2019

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania said on Monday it had lodged an official protest to the Chinese embassy after some of its diplomats became involved in disruptions at a pro-Hong Kong demonstration in the capital Vilnius last month.

Lithuania's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Chinese diplomats acted "in violation of public order" at the Aug. 23 event, which was organised to show solidarity with anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong.

A police spokesman told Reuters that two Chinese citizens were detained and fined 15 euros ($17) each after people waving Chinese flags agitated at the protest.

"We have information that some (Chinese) diplomats were more active than they should, and that is not acceptable," Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told reporters, without giving further details or naming them.

There was no immediate comment from the Chinese embassy.

The event in Vilnius was held as activists formed human chains across Hong Kong, inspired by a similar protest against Soviet rule in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 1989.

Mantas Adomenas, a member of parliament who organised the Vilnius protest, told Reuters that before police intervened, several Mandarin speakers with Chinese flags jostled activists and attempted to wrestle away their megaphone.

After the arrest of the two Chinese citizens, police were approached by people who showed embassy identification and asked for the detainees' release, Adomenas said, citing witnesses in a version partly corroborated by the police spokesman.

"I reviewed filmed footage of the protest, and I saw that the Chinese ambassador was present at the sidelines, and was several times approached by people from the protest," Adomenas added.

The unrest in Hong Kong began over a now-suspended extradition bill but quickly morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement resisting Chinese control of the former British-ruled territory.

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