A group of Members of the European Parliament visiting the European Parliament said Taiwan is not alone in its quest to survive in the face of a more confident China than democracy, just as Brussels is trying to fix ties with Beijing.
Raphael Glucksmann, a French member of the European Parliament who is subject to Chinese sanctions, said Europe shares Taiwan’s democratic principles.
“We came here with a very simple message: Taiwan is not alone,” said Glucksmann at a press conference at the end of a high-profile visit to the country. “Taiwan’s democracy is crucial. . . European long-term interests. “
The delegation from the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in All Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation, was the first official visit by Members of the European Parliament to Taiwan.
Since arriving in Taipei on Wednesday, the delegation has met Taiwanese officials, experts and civil society groups on how best to tackle disinformation, a problem that has long plagued East Asian democracy without compromising civil and political rights.
The EU previously cited China as a source of disinformation about Covid-19, while Taiwan also attributed fake news and social media rumors about the virus to Chinese media.
Although the parliamentary delegation is completely independent of the EU’s official foreign policy apparatus, it nonetheless underscores the challenge facing Brussels in dealing with China, which lies amid the bloc’s efforts to ease tensions with Beijing in order to reconcile its bulk of economic and geopolitical interests.
The EU’s formal China policy is a confused and apparently contradicting designation as “cooperation partner, negotiating partner, economic competitor and systemic competitor”, which underscores the lack of consensus among the 27 member states.
With regard to Taiwan, EU officials stress that the bloc has consistently pursued a “one-China policy”, but that individual member states have a legitimate interest in developing cooperation with Taipei without recognition of statehood.
Relations between Beijing and Brussels collapsed in March after the EU imposed sanctions on China for treating Uyghur Muslims, and the country responded with sanctions against some MPs, including Glucksmann.
This torpedoed efforts to build the EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI), a groundbreaking trade agreement between the bloc and Beijing that had been the cornerstone of Brussels’s China policy prior to the sanctions.
But in recent weeks EU officials have tried to draw a line under the consequences and find a more constructive tone. A call between Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Xi Jinping, Chinese President, touched “areas of mutual interest” for the first time since the sanctions dispute, said a person briefed on the discussion.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and threatens invasion if Taipei refuses to submit indefinitely. Last year, Beijing stepped up air and naval operations near Taiwan.
On Friday, Andrius Kubilius, a former Lithuanian prime minister and delegation member, said Taiwan’s situation reflects the challenges facing Russia, which has interfered in countries like Belarus and Ukraine.