TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – A group of six French lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday for a five-day visit, following a similar trip by a group of French parliamentarians in October that China sought to discourage.
François de Rugy, head of the Taiwanese friendship group in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament, leads the delegation’s latest visit, which will include meetings with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior officials of the government.
“We want to have discussions on all dimensions of relations between Taiwan, the EU and France on the economy and culture and all the issues for our countries,” de Rugy told reporters at the airport.
In October, another group of French lawmakers led by Senator Alain Richard met with Tsai, Taiwanese economic and health officials and the Continental Affairs Council. This visit was part of regular parliamentary exchanges that had lasted for years.
China tried to have the previous visit canceled, as its embassy in France said in advance that this would not only harm China’s core interests and undermine Sino-French relations, but would also have an impact on “reputation and reputation. the interests “of France.
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China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory and declares that the autonomous island democracy should not have official government exchanges with other countries. Taiwan, however, has stepped up its trade with countries that do not officially recognize it as a country.
Speaking to reporters about the visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reiterated on Wednesday that “China strongly opposes any form of official and political exchanges between Taiwan and the countries having diplomatic relations with China “.
Zhao called on countries to “seriously adhere to the one-China principle.”
In a commentary, the Communist Party tabloid Global Times called the visit “an insignificant blow by insignificant French politicians“, quoting a Chinese expert.
China has sometimes attacked European nations it accuses of getting too close to Taiwan or trampling on other issues that it considers to be its “fundamental interests”.
Beijing sought to punish Lithuania, which like France is a member of the European Union, after agreeing to allow Taiwan to establish a representative office in the capital Riga under the name “Taiwan”, rather than “Chinese Taipei”, as Beijing prefers.
Beijing has imposed a trade embargo on the Baltic state and threatened multinationals that do business with it.
Associated Press senior video producer Johnson Lai and video journalist Taijing Wu contributed to this report.
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