China warns EU not to make ‘mistake’ as first official delegation visits Taiwan, calling for closer ties

·3-min read
This picture taken and released on 4 November 2021 by CNA shows Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (R) next to the member of the European Parliament (MEP) Raphael Glucksmann at Taiwan’s Presidential Office (AFP via Getty Images)
This picture taken and released on 4 November 2021 by CNA shows Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (R) next to the member of the European Parliament (MEP) Raphael Glucksmann at Taiwan’s Presidential Office (AFP via Getty Images)

China has warned the European Union against sending any “wrong signals” to the world on its stance towards Taiwan, as a first ever official delegation arrived in Taipei.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday that Europe should “correct its mistakes” after the representatives of the EU parliament met with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-Wen.

Beijing said the visit risks damaging Sino-EU ties. It urged “the European side to correct its mistakes and not to send any wrong signals to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, so as to avoid serious impact on China-EU relations.”

In Taipei, the head of the European Parliament delegation said that it was “high time” for the EU to step up cooperation with Taiwan.

Raphael Glucksmann, the French chair of the European committee on foreign interference in democratic processes, told the Taiwanese president: “We came here with a very simple, very clear message. You are not alone. Europe is standing with you, by you, in the defence of freedom and the defence of rule of law and human dignity.”

Thirteen lawmakers from the EU parliament’s committee are embarking on a three-day visit to Taiwan. Mr Glucksmann said: “It is high time for the European Union to step up its cooperation with Taiwan.”

Taiwan is a democratic and self-governed island whose ruling party favours eventual independence from China, while Beijing views the territory as a breakaway province and has vowed reunification.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday that “the fact that Taiwan is part of China cannot be changed.”

The EU parliament had passed a resolution last month in which they had called for the parliament to “intensify EU-Taiwan political relations.”

The resolution had also called for changing the name of its representative office in Taiwan to the European Union Office in Taiwan, and to establish a “bilateral investment agreement” with the island.

It comes at a time when China has been making increasingly large numbers of incursions by aircraft into airspace that Taiwan considers to be its own, and after Xi Jinping said Beijing was willing to take back the island by force if necessary.

Mr Glucksmann said during the EU delegation’s first official visit to Taiwan: “Our visit should be considered as an important first step. But next, we need a very concrete agenda of high-level meetings and high-level concrete steps together to build a much stronger EU-Taiwan partnership.”

The Taiwan president, Ms Tsai, had warned of increasing Chinese efforts to take control of Taiwan and had asked for security agencies to counter infiltration efforts, Reuters had reported. “We hope to establish a democratic alliance against disinformation,” Ms Tsai told the delegation.

She continued: “We believe Taiwan and the EU can certainly continue strengthening our partnership in all domains.”

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