Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has discussed the threats posed by China and other issues with members of the European and Belgian parliaments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
The statement came after the ministry refused to comment on earlier media reports that Wu, who is on a visit to Europe, would hold talks with officials at EU institutions in Brussels.
The ministry yesterday released photographs of Wu’s meeting with lawmakers, without giving a date or location of the meeting.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via CNA
The meeting was attended by members of the European Parliament from nine states, including Charlie Weimers of Sweden — the rapporteur of an “EU-Taiwan Relations and Cooperation” report passed last week — and the two chairmen of the Taiwan Friendship Group in the Belgian legislature, the ministry said.
Wu thanked EU lawmakers for passing the report with overwhelming support — 580 votes in favor, 26 votes against and 66 abstentions, it said.
The report is the first document passed by the European Parliament on Taiwan-EU relations and a milestone for bilateral ties, it added.
The Belgian Senate in March passed a resolution in support of Taiwan’s participation in international organizations that also called for diplomatic measures to ease tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, the ministry said.
During the meeting, Wu discussed the threats posed by China, security in the Taiwan Strait, the situation in Hong Kong, Taiwan’s ambitions to participate in the UN system and plans to promote interactions between young people from Taiwan and Europe, it said.
Wu asked the lawmakers to urge the EU to start negotiations with Taiwan about an investment agreement, which would require an impact assessment, scope definition, public consultations and other preparations, it said.
On Friday, Wu adressed a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China in Rome via videoconference, telling the group that the EU is the biggest investor in Taiwan, while Taiwan invests relatively little in Europe.
Asked about what the EU could do to address the situation, Wu said: “We think we need to make a balance.”
The two sides would need a mechanism to encourage Taiwanese businesses to regard Europe as a potential market, he said, adding that a bilateral investment agreement would promote that.
There had been discussions on such an agreement in 2015, but the talks were postponed, as many European countries said they wanted to strike a deal with China first, Wu said.
“Taiwan was being held hostage,” as many European countries would not talk with Taiwan about investment before signing a deal with China, Wu said.
However, now that the discussions on the draft EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment are on hold, it is a good time for the bloc to think more seriously about a deal with Taiwan, he said.
Separately, the ministry on Friday denied a report by China’s English-language Global Times that Wu’s “checkbook visit could divide Europe’s China policy.”
Wu’s delegation to Europe, as well as separate delegation led by National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), aim to promote mutually beneficial ties based on shared values in democracy and freedom, it said.
The Global Times’ smear campaign against the delegations is motivated by malign purposes, the ministry said, adding that the newspaper is a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, which has no respect for democracy and the rule of the law.
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