After a massive Chinese military show of force, which included fighter jets close to Taiwan’s self-governing island, a group of French senators arrived Wednesday in Taiwan. Beijing warned that the trip would damage France’s ties.
Alain Richard will lead the group. He will be meeting with President TsaiIng-wen and Taiwanese officials in economic and health affairs and the Mainland Affairs Council. Richard, an ex-French defense minister, has previously visited Taiwan in 2015, according to Taiwan’s semiofficial Central News Agency. He also heads the Taiwan Friendship group within the French Senate.
China attempted to dissuade the visit by advising France that the visit would not only harm China’s core interests, undermine Chinese-French relations and be detrimental to France’s reputation and interests, but also cause damage to China’s core values.
Mathieu duchatel, director at the Institut Montaigne, Paris, stated that the visit is part normal and regular parliamentary interactions between France and Taiwan.
China claims Taiwan is its sovereign territory. It opposes any international engagement, including visits by foreign officials. It has also aggressively poached Taiwan’s diplomatic allies.
China flew fighter planes 149 times towards Taiwan in its latest display of military harassment. This was over four days, from Friday through Monday. The White House called these flights dangerous and destabilizing. China replied that the U.S. selling arms to Taiwan and its ships navigating through the Taiwan Strait were provocative.
Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuocheng said Wednesday to legislators that the current situation was “the most severe” in the 40 years since my enlistment. He was answering questions as the legislature considers whether or not to approve a special budget.
China and Taiwan were divided during civil war in 1949. They have strong trade and investment ties, but no official relations. China has increased its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure to weaken Tsai’s independence-leaning government.