Conflict over Taiwan (II)

The European Parliament and several EU states vehemently increase attacks on the One China Policy, as relations with Taiwan expand.

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) - Parallel to a US campaign to reinforce Taiwan in the joint power struggle against Beijing, the European Parliament is calling for a "comprehensive enhanced partnership" with Taipei. On Wednesday a parliamentary delegation arrived in Taiwan, for the first time, to hold talks with top-ranking politicians with the aim of further developing relations. The European Parliament also advocates taking additional steps, which would undermine the "One China Policy" and thereby chop at the roots of diplomatic relations to the People's Republic of China. The EU's representation in Taipei, for example, should be renamed the "European Union Office in Taiwan" - a linguistic detail, which of course, carries weight in the diplomatic world and signifies a step in the direction of Taiwan's formal recognition. The latter is incompatible with diplomatic relations with Beijing. The new Taiwan campaign goes hand-in-hand with a campaign against the external cultural policy of the People's Republic of China, in particular, its Confucius Institutes. Demands to shut them down are now being heard.

"Levers" against Beijing

The next German government should "boldly invest in its relations with Taiwan." This demand is being raised by Thorsten Benner, Director of the allegedly independent - even with 40 percent of its financing coming currently from unnamed "governments" - Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin.[1] Against the backdrop of a US campaign - in contradiction of official United Nations policy - to accord Taiwan a seat at the United Nations,[2] Benner is making a plea to the German government to immediately support "Taiwan's better representation within international organizations." Parallel to this, contacts between German and Taiwanese ministers, parliamentarians, as well as "NGOs, think tanks, students and pupils" should be intensified. It is also important to "act out scenarios" for the eventuality that the Taiwan conflict escalates. In such a case, there must be "a political contribution to credibly deter Peking." Benner advocates that "the United States and Europe should identify economic and technological levers," to be applied against China - "for example, Peking's exclusion from the semiconductor added value chain."

"Enhanced Partnership" with Taiwan

At the European level, steps have long since been taken to systematically expand cooperation with Taiwan, and launch targeted provocations against China. On October 21, the European Parliament called on the EU - in the spirit of the US campaign - to "strongly advocate for Taiwan’s meaningful participation" in "international bodies," explicitly including UN organizations.[3] In addition "a comprehensive enhanced partnership with Taiwan" must be pursued, Brussels should particularly lay the groundwork for a "Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) with the Taiwanese authorities." China should be induced to "put an immediate end to its ongoing intrusions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone." Given the fact that Taiwan's airspace extends deep into the territory of the People's Republic of China, it remains unclear, how this demand is supposed to be fulfilled. In addition to the European Parliament, EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell is not only continuing to advocate for the reinforcement of the "Trade and investment relationship" with Taiwan and to further develop "existing dialogues," such as the Industrial Policy Dialogue or the Digital Dialogue on Economy.[4] Borrell announced that the EU will seek to practically implement the European Parliament's more far-reaching demands. On Wednesday, a European Parliamentary delegation arrived in Taipei for the first time, to hold talks. A consultation with President Tsai Ing-wen among others is planned.[5]

Meaningful Terms

Several EU countries have now begun to forge ahead. Already last summer, Lithuania, for example, approved the opening of a Taiwanese representation office under the name the "Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania." It is not so much the opening of the office, per se, that is the bone of contention, but rather its name. Nations maintaining diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China promise, in return, to uphold the One China Policy, and therefore to renounce diplomatic contacts to Taiwan. Linguistically, this is expressed in the fact that international representations remain unofficial and named after the Taiwanese capitol, Taipei. For example, Taiwan's point of contact in Germany is the "Taipei Representation in the Federal Republic of Germany;" the German representation in Taiwan is in the linguistically deviating designation the "German Institute Taipei." The respective designations have little noteworthy practical effect on the work of these representations. The demonstratively deviation in the Lithuanian name has aroused the suspicion that Vilnius is seeking an intermediate or long-term renunciation of the One China Policy, which would annul a primary condition for maintaining diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. Beijing, therefore, has withdrawn its ambassador from Lithuania in protest.[6]

Poisoning Relations

In late October, the trip to Europe by the Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Wu and a high-ranking business delegation provoked renewed protests. Economic exchanges, and the necessary visits, between EU nations and Taiwan are commonplace. This can at least be seen in the fact that the EU was recently Taiwan’s largest foreign investor, when adding together the activities of all of the companies in member countries. Last year, Taiwan ranked 26 on the scale of Germany's business partners - ahead of countries such as Norway, South Africa or Brazil. However, due to the One China Policy, it is internationally customary to refrain from relations at the top political levels. Therefore, the visit of Taipei's Foreign Minister Wu to the Czech Republic, to Slovakia, and to Brussels aroused strong resentment in Beijing. In Brussels, Wu also met with MEPs, including Charlie Weimers, of the extreme right-wing Sweden Democrats. Weimers is the European Parliament's Rapporteur for Taiwan. In this capacity, he is also the initiator of the parliamentary approved renaming of the EU's representation in Taipei to the "Office of the European Union in Taiwan" - an act that is far beyond a day-to-day practical significance; one that is likely to poison relations with the People's Republic.

Forbidden Characters

The expansion of relations to Taiwan and the targeted provocations against Beijing go hand-in-hand with a new campaign against the external cultural policy of the People's Republic of China, particularly against its Confucius Institutes. Following disputes over the presentation of a book by two Confucius Institutes, which had been initially cancelled, demands for closing the institutes began again to be raised.[7] As an alternative, "Chinese Language Centers" are being promoted, which Taiwan, with US government support, has begun setting up in 15 locations in the USA, in London, in Paris and in Hamburg. At the centers, "a positive image of Taiwan should be conveyed" - exactly the accusation being raised against the Confucius Institutes in relationship to the People's Republic of China. At the Taiwanese language centers, where they promote themselves as "free and democratic," according to reports, "teachers with a Chinese passport or identity papers from Hong Kong are not allowed to teach."[8] It is also reported that "the relevant Taiwanese authorities ... reserve the right to approve the textbooks." "Materials with simplified Chinese characters" are among those strictly "forbidden." They had been introduced in the People's Republic of China. The characters contain half as many single strokes and are therefore much easier to learn than the traditional characters. The considerably more complicated traditional characters, on the other hand, which must be learned in the Taiwanese language centers, are hardly in use outside Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and the Chinatowns in western metropolises.


For more on this subject see: Conflict over Taiwan (I), Berlin: In the Underground War against Russia and China (III), and War against China.


[1] Thorsten Benner: Deutschland muss Peking in Taiwan die Stirn bieten. 28.10.2021.

[2] See also Conflict over Taiwan (I).

[3] European Parliament recommendation of 21 October 2021 to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation (2021/2041(INI).

[4] EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation: Speech on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP plenary. 19.10.2021.

[5] 'You are not alone,' EU parliament delegation tells Taiwan on first official visit. 04.11.2021.

[6] Streit um Vertretung Taiwans: Litauen ruft Botschafterin aus Peking zurück. 03.09.2021.

[7] Bildungsministerin bringt Aus für chinesische Konfuzius-Institute ins Spiel. 29.10.2021.

[8] Friederike Böge: Chinesisch lernen, nur demokratisch. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 29.10.2021.