Taiwan’s diplomatic offensive overshadows European tour by China’s envoy Wang Yi
Taiwan’s foreign minister is in Brussels after visiting Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Lithuania is next on his schedule. At the IPAC summit in Rome, he urged the EU to sign an investment agreement with his country. Taiwan’s international activism is beginning to pay dividends in the Old Continent.
Brussels (AsiaNews) – With an effective diplomatic offensive, Taiwan has managed to overshadow the European tour of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Taiwan’s chief diplomat, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, has been in Europe for days. After visiting Slovakia and the Czech Republic, he travelled to Brussels for meetings with EU officials and EU lawmakers.
Wu’s tour includes an additional stop in Lithuania, which has come under attack from China over its intensified cooperation with Taiwan. For the Communist-ruled mainland, the island is a "rebel" province and has not ruled out using force to bring it under its control.
Wang arrived in Greece on Wednesday, followed by Serbia with planned stops in Albania and Italy. However, the spotlight has fallen on his Taiwanese counterpart.
Via video link from Brussels, Wu took part in a conference held in Rome organised by Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which includes political leaders from many countries, many of whom sanctioned by China.
During the IPAC meeting, Taipei’s envoy again asked the European Union to sign a bilateral investment agreement with his country.
The EU is the leading foreign investor in Taiwan, and discussions on a far-reaching trade pact began in 2015.
Taiwanese and Chinese observers note that Wu's presence in Brussels could speed up negotiations, even more so after the European Parliament put on hold the ratification of a similar agreement with China.
However, according to most analysts, the Commission and the EU Council – the decision-making bodies of the Union – are reluctant to enter into a major trade agreement with Taiwan, afraid that this would compromise relations with China.
The EU is more likely to focus on signing sectoral agreements with Taiwan, in areas such as microchips, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and self-driving vehicles.
Yet, Taiwan’s diplomatic activism is beginning to make inroads in the Old Continent. Small EU member states like Lithuania and Slovakia are a case in point.
Both countries have said they wanted to continue their cooperation with Taiwan, despite veiled Chinese threats of reprisal.
Peter Osusky, deputy chairman of the Slovak Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told AsiaNews bluntly that the EU must adopt sanctions against China for its coercive policy towards Lithuania.
He also stressed that his country should leave the 16+1 group, 17+1 until Lithuania pulled out, an economic forum that brings together China and 15 states in central, eastern and southern Europe, 11 of which belong to the EU.