“Taiwan urgently needs our support. It is in dire need of this,” Michael Gahler (EPP), who chairs the European Parliament’s newly reformed Taiwan Friendship Group, stressed at a recent event in Brussels to mark Taiwan’s national day. His comments coincide with several months of anti-government protests that have hit nearby Hong Kong, triggered by widespread resentment of what many city residents see as Beijing breaking its promises of autonomy for the island city and its relentless efforts to exert control over their city. The MEP also warned that Beijing’s policies towards Taiwan, which are centered on its proposal to bring the island under Chinese rule under a similar arrangement like Hong Kong, were a danger to regional stability. His words were echoed by Taiwan’s EU and Belgium representative Harry Tseng, who said that China is “hell-bent” on reunification with Taiwan.
According to Gahler, the Friendship Group “aims to enhance cross-border support for Taiwan and to forge stronger ties between Taiwan, the EU, and like-minded European countries.” Describing the situation in Taiwan as “a litmus test to determine the resilience of democracies around the world,” Tseng then stressed that “if Hong Kong is a lesson to learn, it isn’t hard to understand why the people of Taiwan utterly reject this model of ‘one country, two systems’”. Taiwan’s top diplomat also referred to a recent speech by China’s President Xi Jinping who was explicit about being “hell-bent on achieving what he sees as ‘reunification’ with Taiwan” whereby “he used the word for ‘unify’, in various forms, 46 times during the speech,” said Tseng, adding that “it’s clear this has become a deeply personal mission for him.”
The world has now seen time and again in the case of Hong Kong that Xi intends to “impose not negotiate” – this is the message that resounded at the Taiwan’s national day event. Referring specifically to the concept of ‘one country, two systems’, developed in the early 1980s by China, as a model for Taiwan to be brought under Beijing’s rule, Tseng stressed that “we can think of Hong Kong as a test for ‘one country, two systems’”. Although “the promise was that life would continue as normal, just under a different flag, a PRC flag … anyone who has followed the news (from Hong Kong) over the past several months knows that this promise has proven to be vacuous.”