03/18/2021, 10.29
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Paris attacks Beijing: our senators are free to go to Taipei

The Chinese ambassador had ordered Senator Alain Richard not to visit Taiwan. For the Chinese it is a violation of the "one China principle". It is not the first time that China has threatened European politicians who want to visit the island.

Paris (AsiaNews / Agencies) - French senators are free to meet whomever they wish when they go on missions. This is the harsh response released last night by the French Foreign Ministry after details of a letter emerged in which the Chinese ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, ordered Senator Alain Richard not to visit Taipei next summer.

The letter dates back to last month; after the press revelations on March 15, the Chinese embassy published it yesterday on its website. According to Lu, Richard's trip violates the "one China principle" and sends a "wrong" signal of support for Taiwanese independence, all elements that could "damage" relations between Beijing and Taipei.

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry condemned the letter from Ambassador Lu: "The uncivilised behaviour of the Chinese government will only deepen the Taiwanese people's antipathy towards China.”

Beijing considers Taiwan a "rebellious" province and President Xi Jinping has never ruled out recapturing the island through the use of force. At today's Alaska summit with Chinese counterparts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan vowed to speak of Washington's "deep concerns" over China's increasingly aggressive policy towards Taipei.

Meanwhile, French charge d'affaires in Taipei Jean-Francois Casabonne-Masonnave – a de-facto ambassador - said yesterday that the visit of Richard and other senators has been confirmed. Richard was defence minister in the Chirac administration: in that function he visited Taiwan several times. Now he heads the Paris Senate French-Taiwanese Friendship Group.

Chinese leaders and diplomats have attempted to block relations between European and Taiwanese governments before. Last August, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi threatened the President of the Czech Senate Miloš Vystrčil, who was visiting Taipei at the time. Wang said Vystrčil would "pay dearly" for it; the same treatment was reserved for the mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib, targeted for the twinning his city with Taipei.

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