On Thursday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned foreign nations not to underestimate China’s will to defend its sovereignty after European Union legislators voted overwhelmingly in favor of establishing new trade talks with Taiwan on Thursday.
The European Parliament voted on Thursday to begin an “impact assessment” to study establishing new trade ties with China, with 580 votes in favor, 26 against with 66 abstaining. Following the vote, E.U. rapporteur Charlie Weimers said, “The EU is ready to upgrade its relationship with our key partner Taiwan.”
“The Commission must now intensify EU-Taiwan relations and pursue a comprehensive enhanced partnership with Taiwan,” Weimers added. “Work on an impact assessment, a public consultation and a scoping exercise on a Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) with the Taiwanese authorities in preparation for negotiations to deepen our economic ties must begin before the end of this year.”
In addition to its vote to study new trade relations with Taiwan, the E.U. also published a report that “expresses grave concern over China’s continued military belligerence, pressure, assault exercises, airspace violations and disinformation campaigns against Taiwan.”
Following its Thursday vote, the European Parliament said its members “urge the E.U. to do more to address these tensions, to protect Taiwan’s democracy, and the island’s status as an important E.U. partner.”
Reacting to the E.U. vote, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “The European Parliament’s adoption of the above-mentioned report gravely violates the basic norm governing international relations, the one-China principle and the EU’s public commitment on the Taiwan question. It is vile in nature and has an egregious impact. China strongly condemns and rejects this move.”
“The European Parliament should immediately stop rhetoric and behavior that undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and stop seeking provocation and confrontation,” Wang said, adding, “A word for the relevant side: do not underestimate the Chinese people’s determination, will and capacity to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
During his Thursday remarks, Wang was also asked to respond to plans by the chief of Taiwan’s foreign affairs department to visit the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
“First, I want to reiterate that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing China. This is an indisputable fact and a basic norm governing international relations,” Wang said. “We deplore and firmly oppose relevant countries’ connivance at these visits, and urge them not to risk universal condemnation, maliciously challenge the one-China principle and undermine the political foundation of bilateral relations and the atmosphere of cooperation. We would also admonish the Taiwan authorities that any attempt to solicit foreign support and seek political manipulation is doomed to fail.”
On Friday, after President Joe Biden said the U.S. has a commitment to defend Taiwan against a potential Chinese attack, Wang also said, “No one should underestimate the resolve, the will and the ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Do not stand on the opposite side of the 1.4 billion people.”
Ties between the E.U. and China have been strained in recent months after the E.U. voted to condemn and sanction China over its abuses of the Uyghurs and other ethnic minority populations.