January 8, 2008
The EU’s external affairs commissioner has called for increased efforts to defuse tension between China and Taiwan.
China considers Taiwan a renegade province which must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Taipei, however, insists it is a sovereign state, an assertion supported by a growing number of MEPs, including ALDE leader Graham Watson.
Speaking exclusively to this website, EU commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the EU remained committed to its ‘One China’ policy.
She said, “We are convinced that stability across the Taiwan straits is integral to the stability and prosperity of east Asia and the wider international community.
“At the same time we welcome initiatives by both sides that aim at promoting dialogue, practical cooperation and increased confidence building.
“The EU encourages both sides to continue to avoid provocation and to take all possible measures to resolve differences peacefully through negotiations between all stakeholders concerned.”
She added, “In our view both sides need to resolve disputes peacefully through dialogue.
“There have been a number of positive steps taken – we encourage both sides to take initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue, practical cooperation and confidence building.
“The EU is convinced that both sides of the straits should refrain from statements or actions which might raise tensions across the strait and which might be perceived as unilateral changes to the status quo.
“This is why, at the latest EU-China summit, the EU reiterated its concern over the intended referendum on UN membership in the name of Taiwan.”
In a reference to Taiwan’s latest bid this spring to join the WHO, the Austrian commissioner said, “The EU does not support Taiwan’s membership of organisations which require statehood.
“However, the EU supports pragmatic solutions.
“We call, for instance, for Taiwan’s practical cooperation in the technical work of the WHO because we believe that such cooperation is important for the proper functioning of the WHO’s world-wide health system.”
Her comments were generally welcomed by Michael Kau, Taiwan’s Representative to the EU and Belgium.
He said, “We are very appreciative of the EU wishing Beijing to engage in peaceful dialogue. Of course, this is something Taiwan is willing to promote.
“However, we still have reservations about the EU’s continued support for the ‘One-China’ policy, which is very confusing.
“We would rather see policy based on one China and one Taiwan.”