China ‘deeply shocked’ as Slovenia’s ‘Trump’ Janez Jansa plays Taiwan card for ‘political gain’
Published: Jan 19, 2022 11:29 PM
 Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it is "deeply shocked" and "strongly opposes" Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa's move to challenge the one-China principle, including dangerous rhetoric in support of Taiwan secessionism and his plan to establish a representative office on the island of Taiwan.

Experts said Jansa is playing the Taiwan card to cover his troubled resume, at the cost of dragging down the EU and complicating China-EU relations.

In an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan on Monday, Jansa falsely referred to Taiwan as a "democratic country" and called Beijing's response to Lithuania's provocations "terrifying" and "ridiculous." However, he did not reveal much about the possible representative office, which he said "would not be the level of an embassy." 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday the Slovenian leader's dangerous remarks challenged the one-China principle and supported Taiwan secessionists. "We are deeply shocked and strongly oppose his stance.

Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson of State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office said the relevant politician ignored the facts and misled the public. We urge Slovenian government to abide by pledges related to Taiwan with actions and carefully handle relevant affairs. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority seeking external support for secessionist agenda is doomed to fail, Zhu said. 

Taiwan regional authority and Slovenia do not have representative offices with each other.  The Taipei economic and cultural representative office in Austria currently handles affairs related to Slovenia.  

On Monday when Jansa made the irresponsible comments, Lithuanian minister of economy Ausrine Armonaite expressed concerns that foreign investors may change their plans because of Lithuania's deteriorating ties with China after the Baltic country nodded to a DPP authority idea of an office in the name of "Taiwan" and tried to woo the EU to support its stance.

Jansa is a right-wing "troublemaker" who doesn't toe the line with the EU, and he may view Lithuania's mistake on the Taiwan question as a "precedent" rather than "exception," experts said, adding how China deals with Lithuania will be crucial to the development of Slovenia's tentative move and the stability of China-EU ties. 

Some Taiwan media were excited about Jansa's remarks and the island's external affairs authority called Jansa "a friend of Taiwan for years."  

But Chinese experts pointed out that Jansa's political image has shown he is a "fringe politician." 

Jansa's political profile has something in common with former US President Donald Trump, an icon of right-wing politicians around the world, Zhang Hong, an Eastern European studies expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Jansa adopts the 'Slovenia first' motto and slams the media he dislikes as fake news. He also has many anti-immigrant remarks."

Jansa was convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years in prison in 2013. He triggered criticism in October 2021 for promoting conspiracy theories in an attempt to discredit the leader of a European Parliament delegation which visited Slovenia to look into the status of its rule of law, press freedom and the fight against corruption, according to media reports. 

Infamous in Europe and facing corruption allegations, Jansa is playing the Taiwan card to cover his troubled resume, at the cost of dragging down the EU and complicating China-EU relations, Zhang said.  

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that similar to Lithuania, Slovenia wants to amplify its voice and political presence in the EU through the Taiwan question.  

Jansa also wants to put pressure on France, which has just taken over the EU presidency from Slovenia, and forces Paris to follow its stance on the Taiwan question, Cui said.  

Lithuanian and Slovenian politicians are using the EU's existing mistrust of China to disturb cooperation, Cui said. 

Besides Jansa, other politicians who intend to provoke China over the Taiwan question to accumulate political capital are also closely watching Lithuania's situation, experts said.

This is why China needs to deal with Lithuania's mistakes reasonably and forcefully, and draw a "red line" clearly, which will serve as a warning to others who want to follow suit, Cui said.