French senators’ planned visit to Taiwan island aims at ‘extracting profit’
'Unwise’ for EU to let Taiwan question become obstacle to cooperation
Published: Sep 02, 2022 10:02 PM
A view of the Taipei city, Taiwan island Photo: Unsplash

A view of the Taipei city, China's Taiwan region. Photo: Unsplash

A few days after US-based Boeing Co sealed an aircraft deal worth $4.6 billion with Taiwan island's largest airline to replace aging Airbus planes, a French Senate delegation was reportedly about to start a visit to the island next week, as observers said the salespeople-like politicians aim to squeeze profits from the secessionist Taiwan authorities, who conventionally pursue those countries' "support" by offering economic incentives in any form.

The planned visit, which has yet to be confirmed by the French side, would be the first delegation from a major European country to the Taiwan region after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit last month.

Experts said on Friday that the planned visit by French lawmakers is no doubt a violation of the one-China principle and China will not stand idly by. However, with the US constantly using "political support" as the code for an "ATM machine dubbed Taiwan," the French delegation's visit can be seen as a competition between Europe and the US to squeeze Taiwan's economic value. 

In an interview with France 24 on Thursday, the Taiwan region's representative to France Wu Chih-chung announced that a French delegation, led by Senator Cyril Pellevat, is set to visit the island on September 7, Taiwan-based media reported on Friday. 

Taiwan authorities have yet to reveal what will be discussed in the upcoming visit. Chinese xperts said that given the recent frequent visits to the Taiwan island by American politicians, it is clear that France's demand for the island in terms of economic benefit and industry chains is a more practical consideration, hidden behind the voice of "supporting democracy."

"These politicians are more like salesmen, as their Taiwan trip is all about asking Taiwan to splash money," said Wang Yu-ching, a Taiwan cross-Straits observer who lives in the Chinese mainland, noting that the suddenly announced visit should not be viewed as "coincidental."

Taiwan-based "China Airline" on Tuesday announced it agreed to purchase 16 Boeing 787 wide-body planes in a $4.6 billion deal, to replace aging Airbus A330 series planes. The deal came four months after Lindsey Graham, a member of the US Senate Budget Committee, publicly asked "China Airline" to purchase 24 Boeing 787s in talks with regional leader Tsai Ing-wen during a Taiwan trip in April.

It is very likely that, after seeing how easy it was to get the Taiwan authorities to pay the US' bill, French lawmakers decided to rush to the island to promote products, possibly including orders for Airbus freighters as well as parts, maintenance and repairs for the Mirage 2000, Wang told the Global Times on Friday. 

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday that the planned trip by the French delegation might also stress cooperation on the semiconductor industry supply chain.

The delegation would be the second French delegation to visit the island this year, following a group led by French Senator Joel Guerriau in June, which discussed technological innovation, industry supply chains and other matters with authorities on the island.   

The US is ahead of Europe in extracting profits from the secessionist Taiwan authorities, Cui said, noting that Europe certainly wants to find "cooperation space" with the island, in terms of specific industry cooperation and supply chains.

Doug Ducey, governor of the US state of Arizona, arrived in China's Taiwan region on Tuesday for a "trade mission." Ducey traveled with the head of the state's economic development agency, and the focus of their trip was to woo suppliers for the new $12 billion Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) plant being built in the state, the VOA reported.

China does not accept that some countries use institutional differences as an excuse for sending a chaotic message concerning China's core interests, Cui said. 

Taiwan authorities' attempt at "parliamentary diplomacy" showed that secessionists realized that there's no way to change the stance of the majority of European countries' governments that adhere to the one-China principle, Cui said, noting that it would be unwise for European governments to let the Taiwan question become an obstacle to China-Europe cooperation.

As the first foreign politician to visit Taiwan island after Pelosi, Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė was sanctioned by China on August 12 for having "trampled on the one-China principle, seriously interfering in China's internal affairs, and undermining China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."