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Europe cannot ignore Taiwan’s desire for « better relations » if EU countries like Germany want to acquire advanced microchip-making technologies from the island, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said.
Speaking to POLITICO and other media outlets during his trip to Europe, Wu questioned the enticements Europe is offering TSMC when asked why the Taiwan-based global leading chip-making giant has not yet taken the decision to build a new plant in Germany.
“If Europe has provided a very positive incentive, and also talked to TSMC in a way that makes TSMC feel comfortable, that their investment in Europe will produce very positive results… their investment in Europe will not it will certainly be stopped by the government,” Wu said.
« Although we are not selfish in stopping TSMC from making investments in other countries, we certainly hope that other countries who also want to attract TSMC for making investments will also think about the situation Taiwan is in, or TSMC’s position in Taiwan, and the position Taiwan is seeing in this geo-strategic landscape,” he said.
In contrast, Wu called Japan and the United States, where TSMC’s plants will be completed next year, respectively a « like-minded partner » and « a very good partner of Taiwan. »
« I think this is philosophical thought, rather than government policy to place conditions on TSMC investing in other [countries]said Wu. ‘That philosophical point is that when a country is short on computer chips, they will ask Taiwan, ‘you should do this and you should do that’ – but they don’t seem to think about the bigger picture of better relations with Taiwan, cheap or not. »
Wu’s comments are a sharp but veiled criticism leveled at Germany.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021, then-German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier asked his Taiwanese counterpart, Wang Mei-hua, to intervene regarding the reduced supply of TSMC to the German auto industry, according to a reported letter. from Reuters. “I would be delighted if you could address this issue and underline the importance of further semiconductor capabilities for the German automotive industry at TSMC,” reads the letter written by Altmaier, who has been a key member of Angela Merkel’s government who gave priority to trade with China.
One of Wu’s main missions in Europe – in a journey that took him to Prague, Brussels and Milan – was to bolster diplomatic support for Taiwan among European leaders.
It welcomed the EU’s repeated calls for Beijing to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. « China may also perceive that it could come down with an economic price for their possible aggression against Taiwan, so sanctions or other types of economic means against China, and I think European countries have also discussed this, » he said.
Even as the EU has taken a more critical view of China following the coronavirus pandemic, which started in China, as well as Beijing’s stance on Russia’s war against Ukraine, Taiwan still faces challenges as it engages with Europe .
On trade, the European Commission has been reluctant to start negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan, apparently concerned about retaliation from Beijing.
« We are very concerned that the BIA between Taiwan and the EU appears to be held hostage to the stalled CAI negotiations, » Wu said, referring to the comprehensive investment deal between the EU and China. « But if you look at the link – close link – between Taiwan and the EU, in an economic sense, I think the EU needs to find an alternative to strengthen the bilateral economic or trade relationship, rather than getting bogged down by the CAI which is not going everywhere,” he said.
« Hopefully we can get the EU leadership to think positively about this, » Wu added.
Due to diplomatic protocol whereby all EU member countries recognize the « One China » policy, Taiwanese officials asked POLITICO and other media outlets not to disclose where the interview was conducted. Nor could Wu say which EU officials she has met with, or whether she plans to hold meetings at NATO, also based in Brussels. (One of the few EU figures confirming Wu’s presence in Brussels was the vice president of the European Parliament Nicholas Beerwho tweeted about their meeting and called Taiwan a « firm member of the democratic family ».)
Despite the EU’s lack of public acknowledgment of his visit – as well as the European public’s preference to « remain neutral » in the event of a US-China conflict over Taiwan – Wu still has high hopes that the bloc’s stance you change.
« I don’t think that morally, any sensible country, any sensible leader can stand neutral and say, ‘No, we won’t pay any attention to [the] atrocities,' » he said, referring to China’s potential invasion of Taiwan.
“And I think the same may be true for the situation between the United States and China. If China starts aggression against other countries, killing innocent people, violating international law, causing atrocities and destruction, and killing innocent people, and all , and the US is trying to help, I don’t think European countries can say it’s a matter… between the US and China,” Wu said.
« When the international community discusses the main international principles », he said, « I think it will be very difficult for Europe to say that ‘I don’t care' ».