French senators’ planned Taiwan visit a silly move as US just stabbed France
Published: Sep 28, 2021 11:42 PM
Senator Alain Richard. Photo: AFP

Senator Alain Richard. Photo: AFP

A delegation of French senators will visit the island of Taiwan from October 4 to 11 despite firm opposition from Beijing. The forthcoming provocative trip that is in serious violation of the one-China principle recognized by French government will send the wrong signal to Taiwan secessionists. It will also undermine China's core interests, put China-French relations in jeopardy and damage France's reputation and interests.  

The visit will be headed by Alain Richard, a former French defense minister and head of the Senate's Taiwan Friendship Group. In a letter sent to Richard in February after the planned trip was announced, Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye urged that no meetings take place that could harm France-China ties. However, the senators stubbornly pushed through with the visit and the French foreign ministry offered tacit support to the visit by saying that French senators are free to meet whoever they wish when they travel. 

Since Biden assumed office, the US has ratcheted up efforts to rally allies against China and frequently played the "Taiwan card" to check the mainland by allowing US senators to visit the island, dispatching warships through the Taiwan Straits and highlighting Taiwan in joint statements with allies. European provocations with China exploiting the Taiwan question dance to the US' tune. 

French senators' planned Taiwan trip, tacitly supported by the French government, is particularly silly at the time when France has just been stabbed in the back by the US with its AUKUS deal which sabotaged the submarine contract between France and Australia. A popular Chinese saying best describes France's situation: Being sold by someone, and calculate the money for them.

A growing number of politicians in Europe are making an issue of the Taiwan question as a tool to score political points and gain public attention. Czech senate speaker Milos Vystrcil visited Taiwan island with a 90-strong Czech delegation in defiance of the mainland last year. For them, provoking China over the Taiwan question is a public stunt. They are taking an opportunist path, not hesitating to challenge the bottom line of the mainland over the Taiwan question at the cost of their countries' overall friendly ties with China just for the sake of their private ends. 

France, as a country that advocates European strategic autonomy, has no reason to act as cannon fodder for the US to provoke China over the Taiwan question. But the planned trip only proves France's spineless diplomacy. 

Although the rift caused by the AUKUS deal has to some extent been mended by the phone call between US President Biden and his French counterpart Macron, the French strategist circle and the European circle should be wary of the possibility of a return of Trumpism to the US' policies in dealing with European allies, warned Gao Jian, director of the Center for British Studies at Shanghai International Studies University. If France follows the US' step in provoking China's redline over the Taiwan question, it will turn itself into a laughing stock of the world.