"The government’s program includes the strengthening and diversifying of economic diplomacy in the Asian region," Skaiste Barauskiene, spokeswoman for the economy minister, told BNS.

"One of its steps is to open Lithuanian enterprise office in Taiwan by the end of the year," she said.

Lithuania, like many other countries, has no official relations with Taiwan, which China claims as sovereign territory, but this step may further strain Vilnius' ties with Beijing that have chilled lately.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Beijing "staunchly opposes any of the countries it has diplomatic ties with -- including Lithuania -- setting up official institutions in Taiwan and vice versa, and carrying out any form of official visit".

"We urge Lithuania to uphold the One China Principle and strictly abide by the commitment in establishing diplomatic ties; do not be used by Taiwanese independence forces; and do not do things that will harm mutual political trust," Wang Wenbin told a news conference in Beijing.

Lithuania has recently blocked Chinese luggage scanning equipment at its airports over national security concerns, and has scaled down its participation in the China-led 17+1 cooperation framework with Central and Eastern European nations.

Lithuanian intelligence bodies said in their annual report on Thursday that Chinese companies "are interested in developing strategic IT infrastructure in Lithuania".

"Chinese attempts to gain access to critical infrastructure reflect China's overall objective to extend a long-term worldwide influence over strategic sectors and to establish their enterprises on the global markets," they said in their National Threat Assessment 2021 report.

"This would further enable China to advance dependency on its technology, to carry out intrusive cyber operations, including expropriation of data and knowhow, and would build its potential to undermine critical infrastructure in case of crisis."