'We will never agree': China dismisses EU warning over Taiwan

'We will never agree': China dismisses EU warning over Taiwan
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Chinese President Xi Jinping has openly dismissed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's warning not to "change the status quo" over Taiwan, and repeated China's long-held demand that other countries recognise Beijing's sovereignty over the island.

"[The] Taiwan issue is the core of China's core interests," China's Foreign Ministry quoted Xi as saying. "The Chinese Government and Chinese people will never agree to anyone making a fuss about the One China issue."

The "One China issue" alluded to by Xi refers to the formal commitment made by the vast majority of the world's countries to recognise the People's Republic of China, whose capital is Beijing, as the sole legal Government of China. Both the EU and the US are officially committed to the policy; however, both continue to maintain extensive informal ties with the Government in Taipei.

China is tightening its hold on Taipei City and warning foreign nations not to intervene. Credit: Canva

Speaking to reporters after a trilateral discussion with Xi and French President Emmanuel Macron in Beijing on Thursday, von der Leyen said: "Stability in the Taiwan Strait is of paramount importance. Nobody should unilaterally change the status quo by force in this region. The threat to use force to change the status quo is unacceptable."

Both Xi's and von der Leyen's comments come against the backdrop of rising tensions between China and Western countries – tensions which were further strained by the recent visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to the US, where she met House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The trip was strongly condemned by Beijing, which warned Taipei not to "go down this dark path of 'riding on the back of the US' to seek independence".

'Deep concern'

Echoing her hawkish comments made on the eve of her three-day visit to Beijing — which ends this Friday — in her statement to reporters after Thursday's meeting von der Leyen also criticised China's "discriminatory" economic policies and noted her "deep concern" about the country's domestic human rights abuses, particularly in the western province of Xinjiang.

The EU chief also struck an especially strident note on Ukraine, explicitly warning China not to provide weapons to Russia to help it win the war.

"We also count on China not to provide any military equipment, directly or indirectly, to Russia. Because we all know, arming the aggressor would be against international law. And it would significantly harm our relationship."

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Von der Leyen added: "As a member of the UN Security Council, there is a big responsibility and we expect that China will play its role and promote a just peace, one that respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, one of the cornerstones of the UN Charter."

Notably, in her statement von der Leyen made no explicit reference to China's 12-point peace plan for ending the war. Instead, she reaffirmed her commitment to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's 10-point peace plan.

Unlike China's peace proposal, Zelenskyy's plan explicitly condemns Russia's invasion and calls for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.

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