The European Parliament this week passed resolutions that support Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHO and its intention to negotiate a trade pact with Taiwan.
During its plenary session from Monday to Thursday, the parliament approved resolutions on the foreign policy consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and the EU’s trade policy, parts of which were viewed as friendly toward Taiwan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In a statement yesterday, the ministry welcomed the passage of the resolutions and thanked the parliament for its support for Taiwan.
In the first resolution, the parliament cited Beijing’s increasing threats to Taiwan, the crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and Chinese persecution of Uighurs.
It also said that it “regrets China’s isolation of Taiwan in the WHO” and calls on its member states “to advocate Taiwan’s membership as an observer” in the WHO, the World Health Assembly (WHA) and other international organizations.
The resolution cited Taiwan’s effective handling of COVID-19 and its expertise in responding to the disease as among the reasons that it should not be excluded from the WHO and the WHA, the WHO’s decisionmaking body.
It also said that China had used “‘virus diplomacy’ against the EU with the ambition of shaping its global image as a benevolent power.”
Taiwan, which was expelled from the WHO in 1972 after giving up its UN seat in late 1971, has not been able to attend the WHA due to objections from China, except for the eight years from 2009 to 2016, when cross-Taiwan Strait relations were warmer under the administration of then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
In the second resolution, under a section titled “Relations with strategic partners,” the parliament called on the European Commission “to start the scoping exercise and impact assessment in order to formally commence the negotiations with Taiwan as soon as possible,” without specifying what the negotiations would cover.
The government has said it was referring to a bilateral investment agreement between Taiwan and the EU.
In “Trade for all,” a communication published in October 2015, the European Commission said that the EU would explore launching negotiations on investment with Taiwan, but such talks have yet to begin.
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said during a hearing at the European Parliament on Oct. 2 that the EU has engaged in a close dialogue on investment with Taiwan.
However, “in terms of negotiations, the immediate priority is to finalize the investment agreement with China,” Dombrovskis said.
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