TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A group of six French lawmakers arrived in Taiwan for a five-day visit on Wednesday, following a similar trip led by another group of French parliamentarians in October that China sought to discourage.
François de Rugy, the head of the Taiwan Friendship group in the National Assembly, the lower house of France’s parliament, is leading the latest delegation’s visit, which will include meetings with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior government officials.
“We wish to have exchanges on all dimensions of the relations between Taiwan, the EU and France on the economy and culture and all the issues at stake for our countries,” de Rugy told reporters at the airport.
In October, another group of French lawmakers led by senator Alain Richard met with Tsai, Taiwanese economic and health officials, and the Mainland Affairs Council. That visit was part of regular parliamentary exchanges that had been ongoing for years.
China tried to discourage the previous visit, with its embassy in France saying ahead of the trip that it would not only damage China’s core interests and undermine Chinese-French relations, but would also impact France’s own “reputation and interests.”
China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory and says the self-ruled democratic island should not have official government exchanges with other countries. Taiwan, however, has been stepping up exchanges with countries that don’t officially recognize it as a country.
The Global Times, a Chinese state-owned tabloid, referred to the latest visit on Wednesday as “an insignificant stunt by trivial French politicians,” citing a Chinese expert.
Associated Press senior video producer Johnson Lai and videojournalist Taijing Wu contributed to this report.