On Oct. 6, French senators landed in Taiwan to engage in negotiations with Republic of China (ROC) President Tsai Ing-wen, ignoring warnings from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The French delegation
The delegation that visited Taiwan was led by former French defence minister Alain Richard, followed by Max Brisson, Else Joseph, and Olivier Cadic. Leading the senate’s Taiwan Friendship Group, Richard had previously made trips to Taiwan in 2015 and 2018.
In a speech during his visit, Richard called Taiwan a “country” after meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, prompting the CCP to react aggressively. Tsai presented a top medal of honor to Richard, hailing the trip as a beneficial show of support that would uphold “free and democratic values” in the midst of Beijing’s military movements.
“We are very moved that Senator Richard is undaunted by the pressure… to make his third visit to Taiwan,” Tsai said.
The CCP has claimed that it rules Taiwan, but the island’s government has maintained self-rule independent of the communist nation, making it the focus of military provocations from other nations. Taipei has criticized Beijing for its draconian “wolf warrior” diplomacy, which refers to the communist government’s aggressive tactics upheld by Chinese diplomats.
Since President Tsai’s election win in 2016, the communist party has been attempting to dissuade politicians from across the world from supporting the ROC.
France is among several nations providing support to the ROC while the communist-run People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intrudes into Taiwanese airspace and claims territories within the South China Sea.
The CCP showed its disapproval of plans for French diplomats to visit the ROC, but the visit was postponed due to a resurgence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Taiwan.
When the French voted in favor of a resolution for Taiwan’s open participation in global affairs, Beijing was again outraged. China’s embassy attacked the resolution on its website, expressing “strong concerns” and “firm opposition” against the vote, and downplaying Taiwan’s potential in the global public health system.
The Chinese ambassador to France said that the delegation’s visit to Taiwan would “clearly violate the one-China principle and send the wrong signal to pro-independence forces in Taiwan.” The embassy also asked French senators last week to “think twice” and “reconsider” the decision to visit the island, stating that such a move would damage the mainland government’s “core interests” with Taiwan.
A spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, said on Friday that Richard’s comment of Taiwan as a “country” was done “out of self-interest to undermine relations between China and France.”
CCP-run news outlet Global Times called the visit a “silly move,” accusing France of making mistakes in the past, such as when it was “stabbed in the back by the US with its AUKUS deal which sabotaged the submarine contract between France and Australia.”
Similarly, a visit by Czech Senate president Milos Vystrcil also irked Beijing, which called it a “provocation” and promised he would “pay a high price.”