On Thursday, The head of a French delegation of senators called Taiwan a country during a visit to Taipei. Alain Richard, a former defence minister, arrived on Wednesday for a five-day visit despite repeated warnings from the Chinese embassy in Paris.
In a speech after he was conferred a top medal of honour by President Tsai Ing-wen, Richard said Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Paris has been doing a very good job in representing your country.
The Chinese embassy in Paris warned that the visit would damage the interests of China, Chinese-French relations and the image of France, in comments on its website.
Beijing’s ambassador wrote a letter to Richard in February, saying the visit would clearly violate the one-China principle and send the wrong signal to pro-independence forces in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry has hailed the trip as symbolizing the insistence of Taiwan and France, as democratic partners, in upholding free and democratic values.
In a statement on Thursday, Tsai said: “We are very moved that Senator Richard is undaunted by the pressure… to make his third visit to Taiwan.”
She called a resolution Richard proposed in support of Taiwan’s international participation, passed by the French senate in May, a milestone in relations.
Alike other countries France, officially recognizes China which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory.
China tries to keep Taiwan isolated on the world stage and baulks at the use of the name Taiwan or any reference to it as a country. It has ramped up pressure on Tsai’s government since her 2016 election win and has aggressively tried to dissuade politicians from visiting in recent years.