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EU Parliament's Taiwan resolution is inconsequential and irrelevant
First Voice

Editor's note: CGTN's First Voice provides instant commentary on breaking stories. The daily column clarifies emerging issues and better defines the news agenda, offering a Chinese perspective on the latest global events. 

On October 21, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution demanding that the European Union as a whole ramp up ties with China's Taiwan region, prompting criticism from Beijing for violating the bloc's commitments to the one-China policy. The parliament as a whole has positioned itself as a noisy and disruptive anti-China vehicle within the bloc, making normal and reasoned diplomacy difficult. The body had also sought to upend the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between the two parties earlier this year. The latest provocation came much to the delight of western mainstream media, who sought to exaggerate its implications.

The European Parliament is a pointless debacle and a talking shop. When it comes to the formulation of collective European Foreign Policy, beyond the ratification of treaties, it is little more than an irrelevance due to its lack of political power that has frequently led it to become an "angry" body filled with representatives who can do little but attempt to make their voices heard. On this premise, it has frequently become a vehicle for populist, oppositional and "non-stake" politics in the EU, with voters seldom taking its elections seriously. Its latest resolution is non-binding and may be forgotten as soon as the news cycle shifts.

In practice, European Union's foreign policy is made by a process of consensus amongst the leaders of member states, who meet several times a year. This generates a foreign policy premised on compromise, moderation and reason as opposed to the angry and vitriolic scenes in the parliament. The institutional leaders themselves on the European Commission largely follow this precedent. This means that while the parliamentarians may seek anti-China virtue signaling to gain support, it is less likely to change the status quo.

Irrespective of this, Europe as a whole should conceive the reality that Taiwan is a redline that cannot be crossed in its relationships with China, a country that is its largest economic partner. European member states ought to adhere to the diplomatic commitments they have made in accepting the one-China policy. This is not "bullying" or "coercion," but to the fact that like any country in the world, China sees its national sovereignty and territorial integrity as non-negotiable and will put defending these things above all other considerations in its foreign policy.

Aerial photo shows a China-Europe freight train bound for Helsinki, Finland, departing from Putian Station in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province, November 20, 2020. /Xinhua

Aerial photo shows a China-Europe freight train bound for Helsinki, Finland, departing from Putian Station in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan Province, November 20, 2020. /Xinhua

As the example of Lithuania has shown recently, China is prepared to respond and impose costs upon those who seek to undermine its interests by promoting Taiwan separatism. It comes with a risk of the downgrading of diplomatic ties with China, as well as losing trade and investment opportunities. The decision Vilnius made was self-defeating and irrational. Although a lot of other countries feigned "support" for Lithuania, in reality it continues to be isolated in the broader spectrum of European diplomacy while France and Germany, its leading powers, continue to conduct bilateral diplomacy with China.

There is nothing that these signaling and posturing lawmakers can do to change Taiwan's destiny and the end game of eventual reunification. China has reiterated its position that reunification between the mainland and this island will happen, and peacefully. China has the political will, unwavering persistence and determination to stand fast in its goals in the midst of anti-China provocations. And the West simply isn't willing to place the military stakes and sacrifices to change it.

Enough troubles are facing the EU already without the Taiwan issue piling on. Recently, Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruled that parts of EU law are incompatible with Poland's charter. Reuters described it as a challenge to the "central tenet of EU integration." This is one of the most critical crises facing the bloc since the UK's departure. It is better for the European Union to focus on its own survival instead of trying to over-stretch its hands into China's business.

As an old saying goes: "The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on." China will continue to diplomatically engage the European Union and its leaders and pursue a policy of cooperation and an expansion of economic ties while reminding those in the bloc to keep their diplomatic commitments. This parliamentary talk shop is inconsequential, a political theater whereby low-stake politicians use popular and "dissenting" opinions to better themselves.

What has it changed? Nothing. What will it change? Nothing.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)

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