Published on: Amended:
A group of six French parliamentarians led by François de Rugy (LReM), chairman of the France-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group of the French National Assembly, left Taiwan on Sunday evening after concluding a five-day visit.
The trip is part of a scheme of visits by low-level Western politicians to the island which is independently ruled but claimed by the Chinese Communist Party.
The six-member French delegation left Taoyuan International Airport on an EVA Air flight at 11:50 p.m., concluding a visit from Wednesday to Sunday.
With my French deputy colleagues, we responded to the Taiwanese press on the meaning of our visit to Taiwan: to strengthen our friendship and our exchanges, to promote partnerships.
Respect for human rights, freedom and democracy: these values unite us pic.twitter.com/1vgfF1nNmE
– François de Rugy (@FdeRugy) December 17, 2021
The other members of the delegation were deputies Jean-Luc Reitzer (The Republicans,) Frederique Dumas (Green vegetables,) Jean Francois Mbaye (LReM,) Aina kuric (Democratic Movement,) and Jean-Louis Bricout (PS.)
The Delegation encounter Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior government officials. De Rugy, former speaker of the National Assembly and longtime Taiwan supporter, received a Medal of Honor for parliamentary diplomacy on Friday.
At a press conference on Friday, de Rugy reiterated Paris’ position in opposing any act of intimidation that jeopardizes the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan is in a particularly difficult position, facing threats from China at a time when Washington and Beijing are competing for influence in the Indo-Pacific region, de Rugy said.
“It is therefore important that democracies support each other and that stability and security are maintained in the strait,” he added.
Without mentioning China or the Beijing regime, Tsai said during his meeting with Rugy and his delegation that democratic partners should “work closely together, given the rapid changes in the international landscape and the continued spread of authoritarianism.”
The parliamentary delegation is the second high-level French political group to visit the island and is the latest in a series of trips by European and American politicians that have angered China.
In October, a delegation from the French Senate, led by former Defense Minister Alain Richard, visited Taipei.
Richard’s group made the trip despite warnings from China, and he repeatedly referred to Taiwan as a “country” during their stay.
The Chinese foreign ministry last Wednesday criticized the latest French visit, saying “the parties concerned should … stop sending false signals to the separatist forces for Taiwan independence.”
“We strongly oppose any form of official or political interaction between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic relations with China, according to spokesperson Zhao Lijian at a daily press conference.
Taiwan by force?
Beijing claims a democratic self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory to be recaptured one day, by force if necessary.
He has tried to keep Taiwan isolated on the world stage and is bubbling over with the official use of Taiwan’s name or any reference to it as a country.
Since Tsai’s electoral victories in 2016 and 2020, Beijing has stepped up pressure on Taiwan and aggressively tried to dissuade politicians from going there.
China has conducted military exercises near the Taiwan Strait following a visit by a group of US lawmakers last month.
Taiwanese defense minister warned military tensions between the island and China were at their highest in four decades, after around 150 Chinese fighter jets – a record number – made forays into the area Taiwan Air Defense Force in October.