France defies Beijing over legislator’s planned visit to Taiwan

Paris/Taipei, French legislators have the freedom to travel wherever they wish, France’s foreign ministry said Wednesday after news broke that China’s ambassador in Paris had demanded that a French senator not visit Taiwan.

“French parliamentarians are free to make decisions about their own travel plans and contacts,” read a statement posted on the foreign ministry website on Wednesday.

The statement by the ministry’s spokesperson was in response to a letter by Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye (???) to Senator Alain Richard, asking him to scrap his plan to lead a French parliamentary delegation on a visit to Taiwan this summer.

The letter, dated Feb. 18 and obtained by French media, said Richard’s planned trip “clearly violates the ‘One China’ principle and would send a false signal to pro-independence forces in Taiwan.”

It added that “as members of a French government institution, French senators should abide by this principle and refrain from any kind of official contact with the Taiwanese authorities.”

In Taipei, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou thanked France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs for upholding freedom and democracy and supporting Taiwan.

She said China’s actions will only deepen the distaste the Taiwanese people feel for the Chinese government, adding that Beijing’s “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy is the source of tension across the Taiwan Strait.

“Wolf Warrior” diplomacy refers to the aggressive style adopted by Chinese diplomats to defend China’s national interests, especially against the West. Ou said the government welcomes Richard’s visit, adding that Taiwan is a sovereign country and has every right to engage with parliamentarians from other countries.

She also urged the international community to look seriously at the Chinese government’s “uncivilized actions” and take the courage of the French government in resisting Beijing’s intervention on international affairs as an example.

Meanwhile, regarding Richard’s visit, Jean-Francois Casabonne-Masonnave, director of the French Office in Taipei, told reporters on Wednesday that Richard is eager to visit Taiwan and that his trip “will definitely happen” once the COVID-19 situation subsides.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel