On September 14, the same day of the EU-China leaders’ meeting, Nathalie Loiseau, Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Security and Defense, and Reinhard Bütikofer, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China, together with seven other prominent European political leaders, scholars, and experts, wrote to mainstream newspapers in Germany and France. In their joint op-ed, they described how China consistently disregards international rules and values and undermines the cross-strait status quo, writes Jaushieh Joseph Wu.
To contend with China’s ongoing threat to Taiwan, they argued that the European Union should no longer sit on the sidelines but rather review its one-China policy and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with democratic Taiwan. As Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, I was deeply touched by these timely voices of justice. Our European friends have made great contributions to raising awareness about this issue internationally.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office in May 2016, Beijing has been ramping up political, economic, and social threats toward Taiwan, including poaching Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, banning Chinese tourists from visiting Taiwan, and spreading disinformation to destabilize Taiwan’s society. In recent months, China has become even more aggressive, attempting to intimidate the people of Taiwan by military means. Chinese military aircraft have been breaching Taiwan’s airspace on a near-daily basis—and have sometimes even crossed the median line, which has safeguarded the cross-strait status quo for decades.
China’s intimidation tactics have recently become familiar to the EU and its Member States. This August, shortly before Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil led a delegation to Taiwan, the Chinese ambassador to the Czech Republic warned that his trip would jeopardize the business opportunities of Czech brands, such as Skoda, in the Chinese market. Furthermore, in early September, when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Germany, he told German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that Mr. Vystrčil would pay a heavy price for visiting Taiwan. This “wolf warrior” diplomatic rhetoric and bullying expose the hypocrisy of Beijing’s so-called multilateralism and its supposed commitment to building a “community with a shared future for mankind.” Clearly, China’s blind faith in authoritarian rule runs counter to democratic values.
Despite China’s attempts to suppress Taiwan and isolate it from the world, Taiwan has upheld common values of democracy and freedom and contributed to the international community. The government and people of Taiwan employed democratic and transparent methods to unite against the COVID-19 pandemic and related disinformation campaigns. By protecting both the health of our people and our precious democratic way of life, we stood by our convictions and showed the world that democracy is a force for good. And Taiwan did not stop there. As soon as adequate supplies of face masks and other antipandemic equipment had been produced for domestic use, the Taiwan government began donating masks and other medical supplies to countries in need. Taiwan’s humanitarian assistance was and continues to be strongly supported by our people, demonstrating that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner to democratic countries worldwide.
This historic pandemic has highlighted the unprecedented challenges democracy and freedom are facing, as well as the fact that Taiwan is on the frontlines defending these values. I truly hope that the EU and its Member States will reconsider their respective policies on Taiwan so as to help protect Taiwan’s democracy from the specter of China. Safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy also bolsters the common values and interests shared by Taiwan and the EU.
Because Taiwan and the EU share common values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, we are natural partners. I sincerely hope that Taiwan and the EU, as like-minded partners, will continue to enhance bilateral relations.
The Author, Jaushieh Joseph Wu, is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China, Taiwan.