Why the EU has just infuriated China – warning shots fired

China would ‘swallow up Taiwan if they could’ says Wang Ting-Yu

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As China’s largest trading partner, the EU has enjoyed a lucrative relationship with the country in recent years. But actions undertaken by MEPs yesterday redrew fraught political lines that Beijing marked with a warning shot.

Their arrival in Taiwan – an independently governed island China sees as a breakaway province – has caused a diplomatic shock.

A group of MEPs landed in the country on Tuesday night following Chinese resistance.

The delegation of seven hailed from the EU Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference and will meet Taiwan’s leadership over two days.

They will meet Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang and President Tsai Ing-wen today and tomorrow.

Beijing made its position on the visit crystal clear with a tightly worded statement ahead of their arrival.

Officials warned their presence in the nation would “seriously violate” EU commitment to Beijing’s One-China policy, which asserts there is only one state carrying the “China” designation.

MEPs recognising Taiwan’s leadership would “damage China’s core interest and undermine the healthy development of China-EU relations”, the statement added.

But individual members of the group hit back with statements of their own.

Raphaël Glucksmann, a French delegate and frequent critic of China, wrote a tweet from the airport.

He told his 250,000 followers that “neither the threats nor the sanctions will impress me”.

Mr Glucksmann, who joined the Parliament in 2019, is among MEPs who have attracted Beijing’s ire in the past.

In March this year, he was one of 10 EU individuals and four entities to receive sanctions from China.

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The country blacklisted some of the bloc’s representatives following Brussel’s decision to sanction Beijing for alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.

Mr Glucksmann was one of five MEPs named, alongside Reinhard Butikofer, Michael Gahler, Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Mirian Lexmann.

Beijing claimed they “severely” harmed China’s sovereignty and interests and “maliciously spread lies and disinformation”.

Although singled out by officials, their open support of Taiwan’s governing parties is not far from the position taken by EU heads.

EU Council chief Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen recently defended steps member states have taken to enhance ties with the Republic of China (ROC).

Lithuania and Taiwan recently agreed to open reciprocal offices, again earning a harsh rebuke from Beijing.

On October 30, China announced it “resolutely opposes” contact between countries with which it shares diplomatic relations and Taiwan’s authorities.

Presenting a united front, Mr Michel and Ms Von Der Leyen said in a joint letter that China’s pressure on Lithuania following the announcement was “unjustified” and “disproportionate”.

And the latest visit defines a recent push from MEPs to form stronger bonds with Taiwan.

In late October, the Parliament released a report calling for closer relations “guided by the EU’s One China policy”.

MEPs hailed Taiwan as a “democratic ally in the Indo-Pacific” and pledged to cultivate a new Bilateral Investment Agreement.

The agreement, which stressed an urgent need for groundwork with an “impact assessment, public consultation and scoping exercise”, would see enhanced cooperation in several areas, such as public health and technology.

Members also highlighted shared concerns for military pressure exerted by Beijing over Taiwan and the need to protect Taiwan’s democracy.

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