Taiwan: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate on the recent developments

EEAS Press Team

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We had an exchange on Taiwan last October. Almost one year ago, we had an exchange on Taiwan. And the least we can say is that since then, this year the tensions have been increasing across the Taiwan Strait. 

Certainly, the European border, the Middle East and the Taiwan Strait are the three most challenging places in the world. 

You know the reaction of Beijing to the visit of the US House Speaker, Ms [Nancy] Pelosi, to Taiwan. Well, to tell the truth, it did not come as a surprise. I was in Phnom Penh in the ASEAN [Regional Forum] meeting when this visit took place. I was in Southeast Asia, together with colleagues like US Secretary of State [Anthony] Blinken, the State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, Mr Wang Yi, also Minister Lavrov was there. So we followed the events live, and there was certainly an interesting debate about this visit. 

The answer from Beijing – as I said – did not come entirely as a surprise. But I think it should be clear that the visits to Taiwan should not provoke military drills or ballistic missile launches, and should not be used as an occasion to intimidate.  

Certainly, China has been toughening its stance on Taiwan. We have seen repeated incursions of Chinese planes across the median line of the Strait - missiles flying over the island, some even landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. China has also issued a new White Paper on Taiwan, which certainly changes certain parameters for an eventual reunification process. And I want to raise your attention, Members of the Parliament, about this White Papter. It deserves your attention, believe me. 

For us, we continue saying the same thing: to preserve peace, stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait is key, not just for the security and prosperity of the region, but also for ours.  

And let me mention two tangible examples that show how important it is for us. We are the largest investor on the island. Who has been putting more eggs in the basket of the island? We, Europeans. The stock - the cumulated stock - of our investments reaches €45 billion. And Taiwan’s semi-conductor production is crucial. It is crucial for the global supply chains. It accounts for almost two thirds of the global semi-conductor manufacturing revenues in the world. And in the [field] of the most advanced chips – the highly technologically sophisticated chips - it is not two thirds, it is 90%. 

It would be interesting to study how the Taiwanese people have been able to develop in a short time such a powerful and technologically developed industry. It has been, certainly, with our financial support.  

And this has naturally led the European Union to value even more our partnership with Taiwan, to broaden our cooperation with Taiwan, [and] to modernise our dialogue with Taiwan. But all of it in the framework of the One China Policy, which recognises the People’s Republic as the sole government of China.  

Let me be clear on this: the One China Policy does not prevent us - the European Union - from persisting and intensifying our cooperation with Taiwan, nor from expressing our concerns at the recent rising tensions.  

Honourable Members [of the European Parliament], the key message is that the Cross-Strait differences should be resolved exclusively by peaceful means; that the threat of use of force to change the status quo is not acceptable; that the status quo has to be preserved and is therefore key to manage tensions in a way that there is not an open conflict. It is in no one’s interest to have another major conflict in today’s unstable world.  

And let us also be realistic: the tensions in the Strait will not go away. The reunification with Taiwan is now an integral part of President Xi Jinping’s agenda for national rejuvenation. For them, it is a priority. It is part of the so-called “core issues”. 

We have to be aware of that, but this will not stop us in our efforts in preserving stability and the status quo in Taiwan.  

I keep the key message for after the debate. This is what I wanted to tell you. 

Thank you. 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-229642


Closing remarks  

Gracias Señora Presidenta, 

Well, I think that this debate confirms that we remain committed to our One China policy, that we share the same interest in preserving peace, stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and it is key for the whole Asia-Pacific region and for us.

The first message, I think, is clear: no one should unilaterally change the status quo of the Taiwan Strait by force. 

Second, our One China Policy does not prevent the European Union from intensifying our cooperation with Taiwan. And certainly, we have a strong engagement with Taiwan. We have recently modernised this engagement on the economic side. I explained how important is the chip industry of Taiwan for us, how important it is for our supply chain, for our security, for our technology and other perspectives with export control and investment screening. 

So, we have to continue engaging with Taiwan economically and politically. But to tell the truth: I am not planning to go to Taiwan. And as far as I know, there is no travel foreseen at the highest political level in the European Union, which does not mean that there is no relationship. 

Recently, some member of this Chamber [the European Parliament], as far as I know, visited Taiwan. And the fact that we maintained our One China policy, it does not prevent us from intensifying our cooperation with Taiwan. 

And the last message, I want to insist on that: the tension in the Taiwan Strait will not go away. This situation will remain challenging, and I am sure we will have other debates about this issue. 

And we should be ready to play smartly. We have to play in this situation with the strong conviction on our request for peace and stability, on our will to have good relations with Taiwan, making it possible with the One China Policy and the preservation of the status quo. 

I know that this will not make all of you 100% happy. Some of you would like me to take a tougher stance. We have to be aware that this is a difficult situation in which we have to keep both things at the same time. This is a balanced position: no changes of the status quo by force, continue intensifying the cooperation with Taiwan, and keeping the One China Policy. 

I am sure this will provide for further discussions. 

Thank you. 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-229644

Nabila Massrali
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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Xavier Cifre Quatresols
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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