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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Taiwanese tourists still excluded from the EU, but not the UK

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On March 9th, 1973 ideological foes Francoist Spain and Maoist China established diplomatic relations. The Spanish Embassy in Taipei, in what was then known as “Free China” and still ruled by Chiang Kai-shek, was permanently closed and a Chamber of Commerce opened instead, which remains operative.

Since December 2018, José María Liu, former Taiwanese Ambassador to Paraguay and Panama, acts as the current Representative of his country to Spain, heading the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Spain in Madrid.

He graduated from the Spanish department of Fu Jen Catholic University, a well-known institution of higher education in Taiwan relocated from China. Liu later joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China, still Taiwan’ official name, and in 2017 became Vice Minister.

On July 31st, 2020, in an interview with conservative Spanish newspaper Libertad Digital, Liu complained about the fact that Spain had opened its borders to Chinese nationals, while not allowing the entry of Taiwanese, who would contribute to a faster recovery of the local tourism industry and the Spanish economy in general.

Besides that, Taiwan had overfulfilled all epidemiological criteria. Back then, there were 467 confirmed cases and just seven fatal victims on the island. As of today, there are 488 and no new reported deaths.

The diplomat also expressed surprise at the huge credibility that the Chinese communist regime enjoys among Europeans, especially as the Taiwanese government accuses it of first hiding the virus.

According to Liu, the European Union on June 30th had recommended the reopening of its borders to citizens of 15 nations considered safe: Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

That can be considered to be only partly true at the time, as in the case of China the measure was based on reciprocity. It took until August 10th before Peking announced that foreign nationals from 36 European and 13 Asian countries who hold valid residence permits can apply for visas to reenter the Middle Kingdom.

After the United Kingdom is no longer bound by Brussels’s absurd policy, it opened its borders to ROC passport holders on July 10th. Meanwhile, all the EU keeps Taiwan out. Its leaders seem to have forgotten that Taiwan generously donated 5.6 million masks on the 9th of April, 2020.

Recent EU renegade Great Britain, which together with non EU-member Switzerland received 1.4 million masks on the same day, seems to be less forgetful. What does this tell us about the sad state of a supranational organization they left under insult?

I doubt that the British will regret their brave decision! On the other hand, Taiwan should be very wary of much-trumpeted empty phrases about the defense of democracy and human rights. The EU apparatchiks are just what Mao called “paper tigers”.

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