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Speech taken by Commissioner Christos Stylianides on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini
Since the beginning of the year, tensions between mainland China and Taiwan have risen again, after leaders from both Beijing and Taipei restated their positions on this issue.
We Europeans have immediately confirmed where we stand: we want to encourage dialogue between mainland China and Taiwan, and we regret that cross-strait relations have remained frozen in the past two years.
We maintain our "One China" policy: this means that we recognise the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, but at the same time, we have an interest in developing closer relations with Taiwan.
Our cooperation and dialogue with Taiwan are getting more intense on a broad range of issues – and this is because we very much respect Taiwan's system of governance. It is a system based on democracy, the rule of law and human rights. In many ways, the European Union and Taiwan are like-minded. So, we have always encouraged Taiwan to be an active player in international affairs. In short, we do engage with Taiwan even in the lack of diplomatic recognition.
We Europeans have a strong interest in peace and security in Asia. We are very distant geographically, but we know that tensions in the Far East can only have a negative impact on our own security, as well as on our trade and our economies.
Also for this reason, we keep following closely all developments around the Taiwan Strait. In recent years, both sides have taken a tougher stance on the possibility of a cross-strait rapprochement.
Beijing has cut high-level channels of communication. Since 2016, China has increased the diplomatic pressure on Taiwan, to limit further its international space and to convince Taipei's diplomatic allies to switch recognition to Beijing.
On their side, Taipei's leaders have explicitly refused the formula of "one country, two systems".
At the same time, economic and trade relations between the two sides have been flourishing – and mainland China is now Taiwan's main investment destination and trading partner.
Against this backdrop, we Europeans have asked both sides to avoid actions and words that may increase tensions around the Strait.
We have always encouraged mainland China and Taiwan to engage constructively with one another, and to restart dialogue between them. We are willing to support all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue, co-operation and confidence-building between the two sides.
So, I am glad for the European Parliament's focus on this issue and for this debate. We should take all opportunities to promote a more positive dynamic between mainland China and Taiwan, while also seeking closer cooperation with Taiwan where our interests and values converge.
Mr President, this has been a very useful exchange and I thank my colleagues [the Members of the European Parliament] for their interventions.
From this debate I conclude that we all maintain the EU's "One China" policy and share the common commitment to continuing to develop our relations with Taiwan, as defined by the EU Strategy on China of 2016. In this regard, we definitely need to foster our engagement to make sure that the status quo remains the norm in the Taiwan Strait.
So, may I close by stressing my appreciation of Parliament's role in putting this important issue on the international agenda of the EU.