China defends criticism of French senator’s Taiwan trip

Amber Wang
·3-min read

China’s embassy in Paris has hit back at suggestions of an overly aggressive response to a French senator’s plans to visit Taiwan, saying its ambassador was “calm and firm” in a letter to the politician.

The defence of Chinese envoy to Paris Lu Shaye came after French news website La Lettre A reported on Monday that Lu was “sarcastic” in a note to Senator Alain Richard opposing the trip.

Richard, head of the Senate’s Taiwan Friendship Group, is planning to go to Taiwan in the summer and was “very displeased” about the tone of the letter, according to the report.

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The embassy said on Tuesday that it decided to release the letter for clarification.

In the document, Lu expressed “serious concern” about the trip and asked Richard not to engage in any form of official exchanges with the Taiwanese authorities.

Lu said the visit would “cause unnecessary interference” in relations as well as a range of exchanges between China and France.

“Anyone with a little common sense of international relations can see that the Chinese letter is to uphold the one-China principle. The wording is reasonable and well-founded, and the tone is calm and firm,” the embassy said.

Lu said Richard should also abide by the one-China principle out of “respect for China’s sovereignty, respect for international law, and protection of the reputation of the French Republic”.

Richard was defence minister from 1997 to 2002 and led delegations to Taiwan in 2015 and 2018.

Don’t cross Hong Kong, Taiwan ‘red lines’, China tells US

In Taipei on Tuesday, senior foreign ministry official Kendra Chen urged the international community to address Beijing’s “barbaric action” and have the moral courage to reject its intervention.

Chen said Taiwanese and French lawmakers had conducted visits for years, and Beijing had no right to comment on the trips.

This is not the first time Lu has attracted attention for his comments. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian summoned him last year over “inappropriate statements” in which he described the West’s response to the coronavirus as laggardly.

Li Keqiang says Taiwan’s politicians welcome for talks if they accept there is ‘one China’

The latest exchange comes as US and Chinese diplomats prepare to meet in Alaska on Thursday, with Taiwan expected to be a key item on the agenda.

Hsiao Bi-khim, Taipei’s representative in Washington, said Beijing had threatened the stability and status quo of the region, Bloomberg reported.

“We hope that we will be a matter of significance [at the talks],” Hsiao said.

“This may require good coordination not only with the United States, but also with allies, and other like-minded partners, who have a joint interest in maintaining peace and stability and the status quo in the region.”

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