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A senatorial delegation in Taiwan, two weeks after Macron's visit to China

The context is burning but the visit almost banal.

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A senatorial delegation in Taiwan, two weeks after Macron's visit to China

The context is burning but the visit almost banal. On Sunday April 23, a delegation of five senators landed in Taipei, for a trip to the island of Taiwan which will run until April 29. At its head, the president of the “Taiwan Senate” group, the former Minister of Defense Alain Richard, will be accompanied by LRs Valérie Boyer and Alexandra Borchio-Fontimp, the centrist Brigitte Devésa and the socialist Rachid Temal. The week of April 17, a delegation of four deputies has already made the trip, and was received by the island's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Wu.

This visit takes place more than two weeks after Emmanuel Macron's official trip to China, which had caused a lot of ink to flow. Regarding Taiwan, the Head of State had indeed hinted that France preferred to opt for neutrality. “Do we have an interest in accelerating the subject of Taiwan? No. The worst thing would be to think that we, Europeans, should be followers on this subject and adapt to the American rhythm and to a Chinese overreaction”, had declared in particular the French president, in an interview granted to Echoes and Politico magazine.

In the absence of official diplomatic relations between France and Taiwan, the objective of these senatorial visits is often multiple. For this trip, the goal will be "to consult with our parliamentary partners and to talk about legislative developments at home, to dialogue with the government on their security situation and then to discuss economic exchanges", explained last week. Alain Richard at the microphone of Public Sénat.

But this parliamentary delegation will also undoubtedly come back to the controversial remarks of Emmanuel Macron. "We are going to listen to the Taiwanese authorities, tell them what we think is France's position: in favor of maintaining the status quo, opposed to military pressure and a fortiori to an offensive", underlined the senator to the international editorial staff. from Radio France.

Although this visit takes place in a particular context, parliamentary trips to Taiwan are not exceptional. The “Senate-Taiwan exchange and study group” was thus founded in 1982, and its equivalent in the National Assembly in 1989. “According to parliamentary rules, we send a delegation every two years and we receive one the year when we are not leaving”, explained Alain Richard to Le Figaro last September. The last senatorial visit dates from October 2021. Five senators had meanwhile visited Taiwan, in September 2022, but on their own initiative, and not as representatives of the French Senate.

If Taiwan is not recognized by the United Nations, its partnership with France remains very important. At the gates of the G20, the island is a valuable economic and commercial player for France, particularly in the field of high technology. There is also very close cooperation in the cultural field, with in particular exchanges of artists, but also political-strategic. In the 1990s, France had thus “sold La Fayette frigates to Taiwan, which it is still equipped with today”, underlined in 2021 with Le Figaro Barthélémy Courmont, researcher at IRIS and connoisseur of the island.

His close but unofficial connections have always irritated China. Prior to the last senatorial visit, in October 2021, the Chinese embassy had warned that this trip would harm the interests of China, Sino-French relations and "the image of France". Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye had even sent a letter to Alain Richard, in which he declared that his visit "would clearly violate the principle of one China and send the wrong signal to the independence forces in Taiwan".

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