Swiss Lawmakers Seek Ties With Taiwan 02/06 06:16
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- A group of Swiss lawmakers met with Taiwan's
president and said Monday their government wants to deepen political relations,
adding to shows of support by foreign politicians for the self-ruled island
democracy in the face of Chinese intimidation.
U.S. legislators including then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have irked
Beijing by visiting Taiwan, which China's ruling Communist Party claims as part
of its territory. The government of Chinese President Xi Jinping has responded
by flying fighter jets and bombers near the island of 22 million people and
firing missiles into the sea.
Swiss lawmakers have told their government to "examine how Switzerland's
existing relations with Taiwan can be gradually deepened in the interests of
business, politics, science and culture," said one of the legislators, Fabian
Molina, during a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war. The island never has been
part of the People's Republic of China, but the Communist Party says it is
obligated to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary. Beijing says
Tsai's democratically elected government has no right to conduct foreign
Switzerland, like all other European governments except Vatican City, has
official relations with Beijing instead of Taiwan but has extensive commercial
and informal ties with the island, a high-tech center and major trader.
"It is absolutely essential that the existing differences and tensions
between Taiwan and the PRC are resolved peacefully and through dialog," said
Molina, a member of Switzerland's Social Democratic Party. "Anything less would
Legislators from Britain and other countries also have visited Taiwan in a
show of support for its elected government. Pelosi in August became the
highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
The Chinese Embassy in Switzerland warned the legislators ahead of their
trip to avoid "official contact," according to Swiss news reports.
The Swiss delegation also included lawmakers Nicolas Walder, Yves Nidegger,
Mustafa Atici and Leonore Porchet.
Tsai told them Taiwan and Switzerland are "like-minded partners" that value
freedom and democracy.
"I would like to once again thank you all for your firm support for Taiwan,"
she told the legislators.
"Taiwan stands on the frontlines in defending democracy," the president
said. "In the face of the continued expansion of authoritarianism, we also call
on our friends at the democratic front to continue to deepen our partnership
and work together to ensure our way of life."