President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) pro-China stance has decreased Taiwan’s visibility in Europe and undermined its sovereignty, a Danish supporter of Taiwanese democracy said, adding that Taipei should counter moves by Beijing to subordinate its status.
“To my knowledge, I don’t think Taiwan is mentioned [in Europe] that much as before,” said Michael Danielsen, chairman of the Copenhagen-based Taiwan Corner, a non-governmental organization that supports democracy in Taiwan as well as Taiwan’s right to self-determination and membership in all international organizations.
“This pro-China policy is making Taiwan invisible and is reducing your sovereignty,” Danielsen told the Taipei Times in an interview on Monday.
He cited as an example the format under which Taiwan attends the plenary session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) since 2009, which has to be renewed every year with Beijing’s consent.
This just shows how Taiwan has “lowered its own sovereignty,” he said.
“How can a country like Taiwan accept an annual veto from China to be a member [of the WHA meetings]? What kind of signal does Taiwan send to European politicians when they do that? It is sending a signal that it is subordinate to China,” he said.
Danielsen recently brought attention to the change in Denmark’s “one China” policy when he revealed that Taiwan is listed as part of China, together with the national flag of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and a map showing that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory, on the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web Site.
“That violates Denmark’s one China policy,” he said. “It’s obvious, even elementary schoolchildren can see that it is a violation of Denmark’s foreign policy on one China.”
A majority of countries in Europe follow a one China policy, which means they recognize China and that one China refers to the PRC, he said.
“That’s it. Nothing else. They don’t even mention Taiwan in their one China policy,” he added.
Although the Danish foreign ministry officially stated that there is no change in its one China policy and he personally has not seen any changes in Denmark and Taiwan’s relationship, “there must have been some evaluation and they have approved it,” he said.
“It’s not a Facebook [page] or Twitter, or a blog. It’s an official Web site of the ministry. You just can’t put anything on the Web site that violates Danish one China policy,” he added.
He said he did not know who was behind the change and is waiting for the ministry’s reply to his inquiry into underlying reasons for that, but he saw that as one example that “financial investment from China may have an impact on Danish foreign policy.”
Denmark has a good relationship with China, with both countries investing in each other, but a line should be drawn to uphold democratic values, he said.
If the change is to test Denmark’s one China policy, “it’s very important that Taiwan should react,” he said.
“Someone is testing your sovereignty. You need to protect your sovereignty, especially when you have such a close relationship with China,” Danielsen said.
Asked if he thinks that other countries in Europe would follow suit, Danielsen said: “Time is not on Taiwan’s side. Definitely not.”
“I would say that Taiwan’s time is limited, because China’s lobby in the European Parliament is getting much stronger. I know positively that some politicians feel it’s difficult to arrange seminars or activities related to Taiwan, because Chinese lobbyists will be there immediately. There is pressure from China on European politicians,” he said.