‘You are not alone,’ EU Parliament delegation tells Taiwan during first official visit
The European Parliament’s first official delegation to Taiwan said in November 2021 that the diplomatically isolated island is not alone and called for bolder actions to strengthen European Union-Taiwan ties as Taipei faces rising pressure from Beijing. Taiwan, which does not have formal diplomatic ties with any European nations except the Vatican City, is keen to deepen relations with EU members.
The visit came as the Chinese Communist Party has ramped up military pressure, including repeated missions by Chinese warplanes near democratic Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and has not ruled out taking by force.
“We came here with a very simple, very clear message: You are not alone. Europe is standing with you,” Raphael Glucksmann, a French member of the European Parliament, told Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in a meeting broadcast live on Facebook. (Pictured: European Parliament delegation leader Raphael Glucksmann, left, meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, right, in Taipei, Taiwan, in November 2021.)
“Our visit should be considered as an important first step,” said Glucksmann, who led the delegation. “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 three-day visit, organized by a committee of the European Parliament on foreign interference in democratic processes, included exchanges with Taiwan officials on threats such as disinformation and cyberattacks.
Tsai has warned of increasing Chinese efforts to gain influence in Taiwan, asking security agencies to counter the infiltration efforts.
“We hope to establish a democratic alliance against disinformation,” Tsai told the delegation in the Presidential Office. “We believe Taiwan and the EU can certainly continue strengthening our partnership in all domains.”
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu made a rare trip to Europe in October 2021 that angered Beijing, which warned the host countries against undermining relations with China. Fearing retaliation from Beijing, most countries are unwilling to host senior Taiwan ministers or send high-level officials to the island.
The European Parliament in October 2021 adopted a nonbinding resolution to deepen ties with Taiwan, with steps such as a potential investment agreement.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin condemned the delegation’s meeting with Tsai. “We urge the European side to correct its mistakes and not send any wrong signals to Taiwan separatist forces; otherwise it will harm China-EU relations,” he told reporters.
IMAGE CREDIT: REUTERS