European Parliament Push Brussels to ‘Upgrade’ Partnership With Taiwan, Despite Beijing’s Opposition

By Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.
October 21, 2021 Updated: October 22, 2021

The European Union must deepen its ties with democratic ally Taiwan, said lawmakers in a report approved on Oct. 21, despite strong opposition from the Chinese regime.

The European Parliament adopted the report, titled the EU-Taiwan Political Relations and Cooperation, by an overwhelming majority in the French city of Strasbourg, with 580 votes in favor, 26 against, and 66 abstentions.

The non-binding report called for the EU to “urgently begin” preparations for a new bilateral investment deal, an EU-Taiwan Bilateral Investment Agreement, with “the like-minded partner in which Europe shares many common values.”

They demanded changing the name of the bloc’s trade office in Taipei to “European Union office in Taiwan” to reflect the upgraded bilateral ties, even though neither the EU nor its members have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, according to the report.

European Parliament members (MEPs) urged the EU to do more to address the escalated military tensions between Taiwan and the Chinese regime and protect the island’s democracy, the report said.

“There is absolutely no time left to wait until the U.S. comes up with a strategy,” said Hungarian MEP Katalin Cseh on Oct. 20. “Europe must lead a global coalition to ensure Taiwan’s representation in multilateral organizations while calling on China to immediately end the military show of force in the Taiwan Strait.”

At the beginning of October, Taipei saw 150 warplanes flying into the island’s air defense zone in four straight days. The defense minister warned Beijing will be capable of mounting a “full scale” invasion in four years.

The Chinese regime views the self-ruled island as its own territory to be taken by force if necessary. The regime also has a known track record of demanding other governments adopt its stance on Taiwan.

The Chinese Mission to the EU lashed out at the report on Thursday, warning the EU that adhering to its claims on Taiwan is the “political foundation” of the two sides’ relations.

“Without a solid foundation, everything above will be shaky,” the Mission said in a statement.

The regime had offered its “strong opposition” when the EU Foreign Affairs Committee adopted the resolution on Sep. 1.

“That Chinese Communist Party (CCP) efforts to stop this democratic process were futile sends a strong signal from Strasbourg to Beijing,” Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, the report’s rapporteur, said on Twitter before Wednesday’s vote.

Before the vote, Beijing’s envoy to the European Union Zhang Ming reportedly tried to pressure the president of the European Parliament to influence the outcome, according to a letter seen by the South China Morning Post.

Contrary to Beijing’s wish, the relations between EU member states and Taiwan have warmed up recently.

A delegation of French senators visited the island and held talks with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Oct. 6. France’s foreign minister dismissed Beijing’s warning, saying senators are free to meet whomever they wish.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu will start a trip to Eastern Europe, visiting countries including the Czech Republic and Lithuania from Oct. 23.

While the EU maintains its one-China policy, MEPs have pushed the bloc to adopt a more robust strategy to engage with the communist Chinese regime to defend its vital democratic values in a report adopted in the Parliament last month.

Earlier this year, the EU leveled sanctions against CCP officials over their role in overseeing the repression of ethnic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, which led to Beijing slapping retaliatory sanctions against European politicians and entities. The deepening row led to the freezing of a bilateral trade deal in May after seven years of negotiations.

Dorothy Li
Dorothy Li is a reporter for The Epoch Times based in Europe.