French senators to visit Taiwan despite Beijing's opposition: report

09/20/2021 09:57 PM
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Alain Richard (left) talks with President Tsai Ing-wen on a visit to Taiwan in 2018. Photo from twitter.com/iingwen
Alain Richard (left) talks with President Tsai Ing-wen on a visit to Taiwan in 2018. Photo from twitter.com/iingwen

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) A delegation of French senators will visit Taiwan in early October, even though the announcement of such a trip drew the ire of Beijing earlier this year, the online French media outlet La Lettre A reported Monday.

According to the report, the delegation will be led by Alain Richard, the head of the French Senate's Taiwan Friendship Group, and include Max Brisson and André Vallini, both vice presidents of the group, as well as Olivier Cadic, the group's secretary.

The trip is scheduled for Oct. 4-11, the report said.

China previously expressed its opposition to the trip in February in a letter sent by China's ambassador to France, Lu Shaye (盧沙野), to Richard that the French saw as Chinese interference in its institutions.

In it, Lu expressed "grave concerns" over the group's planned trip to Taiwan.

A visit by the Taiwan Friendship Group "will clearly violate the one-China principle and send a false signal to 'pro-independence forces in Taiwan.' China is strongly opposed to the trip," Lu wrote in the letter, which was first reported on by French media in March before being published on the Chinese embassy's website.

Lu said he hoped the group's members would "refrain from any form of official contact with the Taiwan authorities."

In response to the letter, France's foreign ministry said in a statement that "French parliamentarians are free to make decisions about their own travel plans and contacts."

Richard, who has previously served as France's defense minister, also said he would still visit Taiwan and continue to promote deeper relationships between Taiwan and France, despite Beijing's opposition.

In an interview with CNA in late March, Richard said the main purpose of the visit would be to see how Taiwan has dealt with COVID-19 and the economic strides it has made as well as discuss France and Taiwan's regional and global strategy.

(By Tseng Ting-hsuan, Matt Yu and Chiang Yi-ching)

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