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29th Nov 2022

EU Parliament to defy China on Taiwan trip

  • Taiwan, last April, donated coronavirus masks to the EU (Photo: ec.europa.eu)
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MEPs are going to Taiwan despite Chinese threats of new sanctions over EU contacts with Taipei.

"The INGE Special Committee will go on a mission to Taiwan next week. This is a great opportunity to learn more about best practices to fight Chinese disinformation," Swedish right-wing MEP Charlie Weimers told EUobserver on Thursday (28 October).

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  • Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu, came to Brussels after visiting Bratislava and Prague (Photo: Wikimedia)

The European Parliament [EP] committee was created to study "foreign interference in all democratic processes in the European Union".

Its president, French centre-left MEP Raphaël Glucksmann, was earlier reported to be planning a delegation to Taipei by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

He declined to comment.

But for his part, Weimers, who was rapporteur on a recent EP resolution on closer Taiwan ties, said INGE's trip would help "to find best approaches to fostering media freedom and journalism, as well as deepening [of] our cooperation on cybersecurity".

The EP visit is to come after Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu, was in the EU capital on Thursday.

"I can ... confirm that we are aware about his [Wu's] presence in Brussels today, but the HRVP [EU foreign-service chief Josep Borrell] is not meeting him," an EU foreign-service spokesman told EUobserver.

"During the day, there might be informal meetings with the Taiwanese foreign minister at non-political level", he added.

"Our approach to all our partners in general is one of constructive engagement. We seek contacts and cooperation whenever it is possible," he also said, describing EU policy on meetings with envoys of UN non-recognised entities.

The 'Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium', located in Square de Meeûs in the heart of the EU district in Brussels, declined to comment on Wu's visit.

But China's EU mission was more outspoken.

"There is only one China in the world and the Taiwan region is an inalienable part of China's territory," it told EUobserver on Thursday in reaction to Wu's EU diplomacy.

"China firmly opposes official interactions of any form or nature between the Taiwan region and countries having diplomatic ties with China," it added.

The EP plan to visit Taipei comes in times of heightened tension.

The Chinese air-force has been threatening Taiwan's airspace, while US special forces have been training Taiwanese soldiers.

And it comes amid already strained relations between the EP and Beijing.

China, earlier this year, blacklisted MEPs after EU states imposed sanctions on Chinese officials deemed guilty of human-rights abuses against China's Uighur minority.

The EP froze talks on an EU-China 'Comprehensive Agreement on Investment' (CAI) in return.

The Chinese EU mission threatened "further reactions" when the South China Morning Post first broke news of Glucksmann's trip.

China's foreign ministry also threatened "necessary reactions" against the Czech Republic's "provocative act" when Wu visited Prague and signed investment memos earlier this week.

MEPs defiant

But Weimers, for one, was not for backing down.

The EU foreign service was "absolutely" right to meet Wu in Brussels on Thursday, he said. "The question is, why didn't the HRVP [Borrell] meet with minister Wu?," Weimers added.

And last week's EP vote on his pro-Taiwan report indicated he was not alone.

Some 580 MEPs backed his proposal for a rival EU-Taiwan investment treaty, amid European interest in buying more microchips from Taiwanese factories.

And asked if all that meant the EU might agree an investment pact with China's enemy before agreeing one with China, Weimers said: "Yes. The EU-China CAI is in the freezer".

"The [European] Commission should get to work. It's a matter of when, not if [the EU forges a Taiwan accord]," he added.

EU pitches infrastructure investment plan to rival China

Ursula von der Leyen launched a global investment operation directed at infrastructure and transport. Its aim is to compete with the China's Belt and Road. "We want to create links and not dependencies," she said.

EU and US join up against China on Taiwan

The EU and its leading powers voiced strident criticism of China at a G7 meeting in London on Wednesday, even as Hungary, once again, tried to gag Europe in Brussels.

Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia

MEPs have shown consistent support for action against authoritarian regimes other than Russia or China, but unanimity requirements in the votes of the European Council are considered a clear impediment for a more effective EU foreign policy.

Column

'Balancing' China starts in WalMart and Amazon, not Pacific

No wonder, despite the diplomatic and military initiatives, most countries in the region see China as the new leader. Perhaps it is easier to adjust military strategy towards China, than to tackle the addiction of consumers and companies to China.

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