On Wednesday last week, the European Parliament passed a resolution, by a large majority, that advanced a proposal for the EU and US to work together to reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The resolution also stated that the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy being promoted by the political and economic bloc should be augmented to include Japan, Taiwan and other democratic nations that share common values.
The resolution was suffused with meaning as it was passed just several days after a record number of the People’s Liberation Army military airplanes flew into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. It indicates that the EU is preparing to unveil some form of action to support Taiwan, and demonstrates that the bloc is determined to work together with Asian democracies to maintain the security of the Taiwan Strait and the wider Indo-Pacific region.
A number of European nations have gone out of their way to show solidarity with Taiwan and in doing so have bravely charted a course for other European states to follow.
On Aug. 30 last year, a 90-member delegation led by Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil visited Taiwan, the highest-level Czech delegation to visit the country since 1989. That was the year that the Velvet Revolution peacefully overthrew the authoritarian communist regime that ruled then-Czechoslovakia and restored democracy to the country.
In addition to meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vystrcil delivered an important speech at the Legislative Yuan in which he extolled the virtues of democracy and liberty, and stated that Taiwan and the Czech Republic should strengthen cooperation.
A delegation of French senators led by French Senator Alain Richard arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday last week for a five-day visit. The senators visited a number of the nation’s highest offices of state, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Legislative Yuan and the Presidential Office. The visit was a clear show of support for Taiwan.
Antoine Bondaz, a researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris, said in an interview that the delegation’s visit to Taiwan was extremely significant. He said it showed that the EU and France had woken up to Taiwan’s importance and were now willing to publicly express support for Taiwan without fearing threats or reprisals from Beijing.
Moreover, a report by the Central News Agency said that a delegation of parliamentarians from Lithuania is scheduled to visit Taiwan in December to promote closer bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Beyond these visits, increased interaction between European nations and Taiwan has also manifested through vaccine diplomacy. European nations — including Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland — have all donated COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan.
Last month, the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs passed the EU-Taiwan Political Relations and Cooperation report and approved proposals that recommended that the union bolster political ties with Taiwan.
The Legislative Yuan and Taiwan’s main political parties should make good use of this fortuitous window of opportunity to complement Taiwan’s overall foreign policy objectives by promoting interparliamentary and interparty diplomatic exchanges with European nations. This would help to expand the potential for future democratic exchanges and cooperation with European countries.
Chang Sue-chung is a chair professor at Hungkuo Delin University of Technology.
Translated by Edward Jones
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