A top EU lawmaker assured leaders in Taipei on Tuesday that Europe would back Taiwan's democracy, as she arrived for the first official visit by an MEP of her rank.
Nicola Beer, one of the European Parliament's vice presidents, said that Europe and Taiwan needed to work together to address global challenges as they both belonged to a "family of democracies."
"Taiwan's bloom is also Europe's bloom. We won't turn a blind eye to China's threats to Taiwan. Europe was late for Hong Kong, we won't be late for Taiwan," she said, referring to China’s crackdown on Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.
Beer arrived in Taipei on Tuesday for a three-day visit that aims to strengthen strategic cooperation in key areas in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China's involvement in Hong Kong.
The visit is expected to upset China, as the country opposes any official exchanges between the island state and foreign politicians.
According to Beer, the existing partnership between Europe and Taiwan should be strengthened, with a bilateral investment agreement as a central feature.
At a televised meeting with Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang, Beer continued by stating that Europe wants to facilitate participation in international institutions and historical and cultural exchanges for Taiwan.
The Taiwanese premier noted that the European Parliament had recently passed several resolutions in favor of Taiwan.
During her visit, Beer is also scheduled to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai ing-wen, as well as think tanks and NGOs to address issues such as national defense, democracy and human rights.
Why is Taiwan under threat?
The situation of the 23 million Taiwanese people has long been tense, as they live under constant threat of invasion by China which does not consider the self-ruled island state as independent and has announced plans to reabsorb it into its political rule.
In light of Russia's assault on Ukraine, concerns about China's willingness to attempt a military invasion of Taiwan are running high — especially if Russian President Vladimir Putin proves to be victorious.
Beer made it clear that: "There is no room for Chinese aggression in democratic Taiwan. For the moment, we witness war in Europe; we do not want to witness war in Asia."
How is China reacting to Nancy Pelosi’s reportedly planned Taiwan visit?
The Chinese government warned it would take "resolute and strong measures" should the US House Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visit Taiwan as reported.
According to a report in the Financial Times, Pelosi and her delegation are due to visit the island state in August on a trip that includes meetings in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Hawaii.
Pelosi, who is second in line to the president, was scheduled to visit the country in April but tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, China said such a visit would severely impact the relations between the US and Beijing.
If Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan, this would "severely undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, gravely impact the foundation of China-US relations and send a seriously wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijiang said at a daily briefing.
"If the US side obstinately clings to this course, China will take resolute and strong measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity," Zhao said.
"The United States must be fully responsible for all the consequences caused by this."
Pelosi would be the highest ranking American lawmaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry said it has "not received relevant information" concerning any visit from Pelosi, who is a long-time critic of China.
Taiwan's independence from China is a constant irritant in the diplomatic and trade ties between Washington and Beijing.
The Biden administration has continued to demonstrate its support to Taiwan and has sworn a "rock-solid" commitment to the self-governed state.
los/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)