02/03/2023, 17.16
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Italian lawmakers prepare visit to Taipei

by Emanuele Scimia

Senator Malan: "Every year two or three delegations used to leave from Rome, and we hope to resume this good custom." Last mission before the pandemic. Relations between Western and Taiwanese politicians infuriate China. Latest clash with Czech president-elect, who spoke to Tsai Ing-wen in phone call.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Italian lawmakers are preparing a visit to Taiwan, Senator Lucio Malan, chairman of the Italy-Taiwan Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, revealed to AsiaNews.

Over the past two years, trips to Taiwan by Western, mainly European, political representatives have intensified. As expected, such missions infuriate China, which considers Taipei a "rebel province" to be reunified even with the use of force.

Beijing does not want governments with which it has formal diplomatic relations-such as Italy-to have state relations with the Taiwanese, a practice seen as supporting independence forces on the island.

 "We are trying to reschedule visits [to Taipei] and identify a period free of 'urgent' parliamentary engagements so that we can carry out the missions that used to leave for Taiwan from Italy," explains Malan, president of senators from Brothers of Italy (FdI), the main party in the ruling coalition.

The last visit to Taiwan by an Italian parliamentary delegation was before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In early 2020, on the eve of the adoption of reciprocal health emergency closures, a mission of five deputies was scheduled to leave for the island, which was later canceled.

The visits were scheduled to resume last September, skipped due to the early end of the previous legislature and the start of the new one, which also required the reorganization of the Friendship Group.

"Every year two or three delegations used to leave from Rome," says Malan, "and we hope to resume this good custom, also because many new deputies and senators are eager to learn more about free, democratic and brilliant Taiwan.

Also in favor of a mission of Italian parliamentarians to Taipei is FdI Senator Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata, former foreign minister in the Monti government and previously Italy's ambassador to the United States.

In the immediate term, it will be Swiss parliamentarians who travel to Taiwan (on Feb. 5); next month, Czech deputies will go instead, while in mid-January a Spanish delegation returned after three years.

There is much tension between Beijing and Washington over the possible visit in the coming months to Taipei of Kevin McCarthy, newly appointed speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Chinese had reacted to an August visit by his predecessor Nancy Pelosi with massive military exercises.

The latest target of Beijing's wrath over relations with Taiwan is Czech President-elect Petr Pavel, who on Jan. 31 had a telephone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out at the Prague politician, accusing him of "stepping on a red line of China, seriously interfering in its domestic affairs and hurting the feelings of the Chinese people."

The last time Tsai had a telephone exchange with a leader of a country without formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan was in December 2016 with Donald Trump, then the winner of the U.S. presidential election.

The harshest treatment Communist China gave Lithuania, however. In November 2021, the Taiwanese government opened a mission in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius under the name "Taiwanese."

The move provoked immediate retaliation from Beijing, which said the failure to use the name "Taipei" was a violation of the "one-China policy." The Chinese have since reset trade relations with the Lithuanians, a coercive action denounced by the European Union at the World Trade Organization.

(CNA photo)

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