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26th Sep 2023

EU's China stance 'here to stay' despite Taiwan tensions

  • Taiwan is the EU's 15th largest global trading partner - China is number two (Photo: ec.europa.eu)
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The EU will not shift its "One China" policy with Beijing in the wake of the recent flare-up in tensions over Taiwan.

The position was reaffirmed on Thursday (1 September) by Dominic Porter, a senior official with the EU's external policy branch, EEAS.

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"Let there be no question. The EU's 'One China' policy is here to stay," he said.

The strategy builds on notions of what the EU describes as a "principled, practical and pragmatic" engagement.

But China is also the EU's second-largest trading partner, with Taiwan trailing far behind at 15th.

Porter also put to rest any bilateral investment agreement plans with Taiwan.

"[It] is not currently on the cards", he said, noting however that Taiwanese companies are already free to invest in Europe.

"In fact, Taiwanese investments have increased in recent months not decreased," he said.

The self-governing island of some 23 million people off China's coast is a global leader in semiconductors.

But it is also at constant risk of being absorbed by Beijing, which launched a campaign of military intimidation against Taiwan in early August following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

This included live fire exercises, jet fighter overflights, cyber attacks, and incursions into Taiwanese air space.

The aftermath of those tensions were among the reasons the European Parliament's committee on foreign affairs demanded a session with Porter on Thursday.

Its chair, German centre-right MEP David McAllister, said that while the EU respects the One China policy, it won't "tolerate any unilateral attempts to modify the status quo."

Similar comments were made by German MEP Michael Gahler, who Beijing blacklisted last year after the EU sanctioned Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.

Gahler's said Pelosi's visit to Taiwan would be followed by others, including members of the European Parliament.

"The Chinese are watching also closely how we react on Russia's aggression towards Ukraine. And if we step back there, they will feel encouraged," he said.

China has cosied up to Russia following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in late February.

China's ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, has also repeated the Kremlin line on the invasion and blamed Washington as the "main initiator and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis."

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