TAIPEI: The first official delegation of European lawmakers landed in Taipei, defying warnings from China that the bloc’s support for the democratically ruled island would have dire consequences.
The group from the European Parliament’s special committee on foreign interference is scheduled to meet top political leaders while in Taiwan, including President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang during the three-day visit.
The seven-strong delegation is led by committee chair Raphaël Glucksmann from France and includes members from Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Italy. While European parliamentarians have regularly visited Taiwan in the past, this is the first time the body has officially sent a delegation to the island, according to a statement from Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry.
The trip is the latest in a flurry of diplomacy between Europe and Taipei over the past month. Last week, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu and top economic planner, Kung Ming-hsin, visited the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania in separate trips to discuss investment, industrial cooperation and bilateral ties.
China has voiced its opposition to strengthening ties between Taiwan and Europe. The Foreign Ministry in Beijing slammed the Czech Republic for hosting Wu and vowed to take “legitimate countermeasures” against the country.
Earlier last month, after the EU adopted a report calling for greater ties with Taiwan, which it described as a “partner and democratic ally in the Indo-Pacific,” China’s Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin labeled the bloc’s decision as “vile” and warned it would have an egregious impact on ties with Beijing.
China views Taiwan as a part of its territory and vociferously objects to countries engaging in official contact with Taipei. President Tsai’s administration rejects China’s claims, asserting that Taiwan is already a de facto sovereign nation.
Taiwanese officials aim to seek greater international support later this week when they travel to Glasgow for the United Nation’s COP-26 climate summit. While Taiwan isn’t a member of the UN and is excluded from officially taking part in the meetings, Taipei officials often hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines of such events.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month called for other countries to join the U.S. in pressing to give Taiwan a greater role at the UN.
While Taiwan has participated as an observer at UN events in the past, Beijing has blocked it from UN agencies such as the World Health Organization since President Tsai was elected in 2016 and refused to accept that Taiwan is part of China.