China warns Belgium is ‘playing with fire’ on Taiwan
Beijing wants lawmakers to change a resolution set to be discussed next week.
China is pressuring the Belgian parliament to change a proposed resolution on "the growing threat toward Taiwan," which Beijing warns would impact relations with Brussels, according to a letter seen by POLITICO.
In the letter, the Chinese ambassador to Belgium, Cao Zhongming, stresses how "sensitive the Taiwan question is" and warns Belgium not to "support 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces through any means, so as to jointly uphold the overall bilateral relationship between China and Belgium."
He also warned that "any act that endorses 'Taiwan independence' will seriously damage peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, and 'playing with fire' on the Taiwan question will seriously damage relations between relevant countries and China."
The resolution, which was introduced by the chair of the foreign affairs committee Els Van Hoof, urges de-escalation and condemns what it calls "Chinese aggression toward Taiwan, and calls on the People's Republic of China to refrain from any measures that further destabilize the region."
Van Hoof, to whom the letter is addressed, told POLITICO that the resolution does not recognize or call for the independence of Taiwan, which China considers to be part of its territory. On the contrary, she said, "the resolution emphasizes that the status quo must not be touched unilaterally, so not by China, but also not by Taiwan."
Belgium raised the ire of Beijing earlier this year when Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib gave an interview in which she was critical of China's involvement in European ports. The Chinese government demanded that Lahbib "retract" her remarks.
In the latest letter from Beijing, China's ambassador also criticized Van Hoof's recent visit to Taiwan with the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China in November, calling it a "harmful act that violates the one-China policy" and expressing "strong opposition and condemnation."
The resolution is set to be discussed in the parliament's foreign affairs committee next week.