Following the Chinese ruling party's top congress, a delegation of eight European lawmakers, two of whom have been sanctioned by Beijing, are scheduled to land in Taiwan on Tuesday.
The team, which includes Dutch lawmaker Sjoerd Sjoerdsma and Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the European Parliament's delegation on relations with China, focuses on trade, investment, and technology. Since the beginning of last year, Beijing has placed both of them on blacklist.
"This is a visit with very practical ambitions. We will return from Taiwan with an even clearer picture of what needs to be done in our respective legislatures, and we won’t rest until we have achieved them," according to Bütikofer, who is leading the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China delegation.
President Tsai Ing-wen is one of the Taiwanese officials they will meet with.
After Beijing began military drills surrounding Taiwan this summer, when U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island against Beijing's warning, concern over Taiwan in Europe has increased. In addition, as Russian President Vladimir Putin's conflict on Ukraine continues, European mistrust has grown about China's strategic alliance with Russia.
Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated Beijing's threat to "reunify" Taiwan through force if necessary during the recently finished Communist Party congress.
Another member of the delegation traveling to Taiwan is the Ukrainian politician Mykola Kniazhytskyi, who sees similarities between his country and Taiwan.
He asserted that Taiwan and Ukraine had many similarities. "World democracies — and especially Germany — struggle to learn lessons of the past. I will be emphasizing how dependency on Russia landed us and the world in a major crisis. We are sleepwalking into the same thing with Taiwan, " said Kniazhytskyi.
German, Czech, British, Belgian, and Kosovan lawmakers will also be traveling, as Taiwan is eager to pursue parliamentary diplomacy at a time when the majority of Western officials refrain from visits at the administration level due to their pledges to Beijing's "one China".
In an effort to prevent a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan, the European External Action Service, the EU's department in charge of foreign policy, has published a new internal paper urging member nations to cooperate on "de-escalation and dissuasion" with Beijing. Concern is fueled in part by the fact that Taiwan supplies over 90% of the most advanced microchips to manufacturers and businesses in Europe.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other U.S. officials have recently issued warnings that China is "speeding up" plans to use force against Taiwan "on a much faster timeline" than anticipated. Washington had previously predicted that such an event would not occur before 2027.
"So when we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind, that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window. I can't rule that out,"Adm. Michael Gilday, a senior U.S. Navy official, stated earlier this month.
By fLEXI tEAM