French lawmaker Cesarini backs WHA, Interpol bids on six-day visit to Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Nov 16, 2018 - Page 3

A visiting French legislator on Wednesday said he supports Taiwan’s bid to join Interpol, adding that political factors should not result in its exclusion from international organizations.

“We support Taiwan joining Interpol as we did with supporting its bid to join the World Health Assembly (WHA),” Jean-Francois Cesarini, a member of the French National Assembly and chairman of its Taiwan-France Friendship Group, said in an interview.

Security and health issues have no boundaries, said Cesarini, who is leading a six-member delegation.

Preventing crime and the spread of viruses require cross-border cooperation, he said, adding that international organizations and meetings such as the WHA and Interpol should not exclude Taiwan.

Cesarini and the group had previously issued a statement after the WHO rejected Taiwan’s attendance at its annual meeting in May.

It was the second year in a row that Taiwan had failed to obtain an invitation to the assembly due to Chinese pressure.

Interpol had also rejected Taiwan’s application to join its general meeting in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, as it regards China to be the sole Chinese representative to the organization.

Cesarini and the friendship group also facilitated Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan’s (蘇嘉全) visit to the French National Assembly in July, the first Taiwanese speaker to visit it.

Asked to comment on how France could help counter China’s continuous efforts to squeeze Taiwan’s international space, Cesarini said that France should not take sides between China and Taiwan, but must cooperate with both, which is why he has been pushing for closer Paris-Taipei exchanges on various fronts, such as culture, wind energy and technology.

Su’s visit shows the assembly’s recognition of Taiwan, he said.

The two sides are also to discuss ways to cooperate in combating fake news, he said.

The French assembly has been deliberating a bill that would allow courts to decide whether reports published during election periods are credible or should be taken down.

During a conversation on Tuesday with Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka and Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳), they both expressed interest in learning more about such safeguards, Cesarini said, adding that France is willing to share its experience with Taiwan.

The law is not meant to interfere with freedom of speech, but attempts to show people how to tell the difference between opinions and lies, especially false information being deliberately spread to manipulate elections, he added.

The French delegation’s visit ends today.