By Martin Banks - 28th November 2007
A senior MEP has lambasted French president Nicolas Sarkozy over his support for the EU’s ‘One-China’ policy towards Taiwan.
Speaking during his official visit to China this week, Sarkozy said, “Our position on Taiwan is clear.
“The French stance is that there is only one China and Taiwan is an integral part of the territory of China.”
His comments, reported in the European press, sparked anger both among Taiwan officials and diplomats in Brussels and some MEPs.
Graham Watson, leader of the ALDE group in parliament, plans to raise the issue with Javier Solana, EU high representative for common foreign and security policy.
Watson, a member of parliament’s delegation for relations with China, said, “It would be a good idea for Mr Sarkozy to visit Taiwan. If he did then maybe next time he would know what he is talking about.”
Watson is a close ally of Taiwan’s cause and backs its campaign for the EU to drop its support for the ‘One-China’ policy towards Taiwan.
He says the EU should follow the example set by the US and Japan in taking stock of the “changing situation” in Taiwan.
“The fact of the matter is that Taiwan is now a thriving economy and flowering democracy.
“It is important that the wishes of its 23 million population to be seen as a separate entity from China should be recognised by the international community, including the EU.
“I am not necessarily saying that the EU should open an embassy in Taiwan. But under the new reform treaty, the EU will have to develop a common foreign policy.
“As it does so, it should look again at the EU’s treatment of the Chinese-speaking world.”
"The Americans and Japanese are willing to take into account the changing situation in Taiwan - so why not the EU? Its position on Taiwan is looking increasingly anomalous."
He said he planned to raise the ‘One-China’ affair, along with visa issues, with Solana in the coming days.
A spokesman for the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium also criticised Sarkozy’s intervention.
He said, “We are very disappointed at Sarkozy's statement on China-Taiwan relations.
“He chooses to ignore the fact that Taiwan has been a sovereign state for nearly 50 years and one which currently enjoys diplomatic relations with 24 countries around the world, including the Vatican.”