Taiwan is hogging all the limelight and that too for all the right reasons. The Chinese Communist Party isn’t able to comprehend why its Wolf Warrior diplomacy is finding no takers with the countries across the world tilting towards Taiwan thanks to its mask diplomacy, and its far-sightedness while handling the Coronavirus threat. One of the nations furious with China and openly backing Taiwan, is France, led by President Macron.
Now, in a significant development, France is all set to sell arms to Taiwan much to the ire of China, with the dragon as usual resorting to threats against France in a bid to stop France from selling arms to the self-ruled Taiwan. In response to China’s protests, France minced no words as it boldly told China to focus on the coronavirus pandemic instead.
France claimed that it was only honouring the existing deals as it ignored China’s warnings. Taiwan is planning to buy weapons from France to upgrade its warship fleet it brought 30 years ago which is incidentally French made.
Taiwan is diplomatically isolated as China stresses to impose its “One China” policy to any country which has diplomatic relations with China. The policy dictates that Taiwan is a part of China whereas, in reality, it has been independent from the mainland for the past seven decades. China considers Taiwan as a dissenting province that must be reunified, through force, if necessary.
Hence, France selling arms to Taiwan is a significant development that has understandably irked China especially after the TAIPEI Act which mandates the USA to take up Taiwan’s cause internationally as a policy and protect Taiwan in the case of a military confrontation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Zhao Lijian said, “We have already expressed our serious concern to France. We again urge the French side to abide by the one-China principle and withdraw the arms sale plan to Taiwan to avoid harming Sino-French relations.”
France wasn’t deterred from China’s warning as the French Foreign Ministry responded, “Within this context, France respects the contractual commitments it made with Taiwan and has not changed its position since 1994.”
It further added that, “Facing the COVID-19 crisis, all our attention and efforts should be focused on battling the pandemic.”
Historically, France has been selling weapons to Taiwan at the risk of spoiling relations with China as in 1992, it sold 60 Mirage fighter jets to Taiwan. Local Taiwanese media reported that Taiwan is proposing to spend $26.8 million on the DAGAIE missile interference system from the France based DCI-DESCO.
Not just France, the world is tilting slowly but steadily towards Taiwan thanks to its mask diplomacy and successful handling of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Recently, France has also reprimanded the Chinese ambassador as its foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador after the embassy was seen defending China’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus and criticising the West’s handling of the pandemic on social media platforms. On April 12, China’s ambassador in France, Lu Shaye was summoned as the Chinese embassy in Paris posted a misleading article on its website which insinuated that care workers in the nursing homes in the West had abandoned their jobs, thereby leaving the residents to die.
While Lu Shaye has claimed that the relations between the two countries remain strong, however, he didn’t withdraw his comments. On April 26, the embassy posted another article waging complained of “China-bashing” and sung endless praises of China’s handling of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Even French President Emmanuel Macron has criticised China for its handling of the virus as he suggested it was “naive” to think that China has dealt better with the virus as he claimed that things happened in China which “we don’t know about”.
While France and China continue to flare up diplomatically, French media has also taken a hardened anti-China stance in the past few weeks. The title of Le Figaro Magazine was ‘The Great Chinese Lie’ which featured President Xi Jinping wearing a mask and wagging his finger. After initially praising China for its handling, the mood has greatly changed as one of the country’s most popular newspapers, Le Figaro blamed China for the virus’s outbreak in France.
“China thought it was coming out on top of the crisis by sending planes with face masks and medical equipment. Beijing thought it could reap the benefits of being the only power with the capability for this. It’s a very weird thing that it has instead provoked a backlash,” said Pierre Haski, a veteran French journalist. It seems that China’s hollow threats and warnings are no longer being taken seriously by France.