Reeling from Lithuania’s decision to allow Taiwan to set up a representative mission under its own name, China now faces another EU nation – Slovenia – planning the same move.
Janez Janša, Slovenia’s prime minister, told India’s national broadcaster that the southeastern European nation is preparing an exchange of representatives with Taiwan, a move that could worsen relations with China but was welcomed by Taipei on Tuesday.
He added the move would have come much earlier had he had the support in parliament and argued that the vast majority of EU member countries already have “some kind of representative offices” with Taiwan.
Beijing is critical of any international support for Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory and has vowed to annex if necessary.
Lithuania’s decision last year to allow Taiwan to open a representative office under its own name infuriated Beijing, which downgraded diplomatic ties with the Baltic state in November.
Janša criticised China’s policy on Taiwan saying “it’s difficult to listen to a capital with a one-party system lecturing about democracy and peace around the world”.
‘Good for Taiwan to join WHO’
He said the current Covid-19 epidemic had shown how beneficial it would be if Taiwan were allowed to join the World Health Organisation.
“I think it would also benefit China to have a neighbouring country be a member of such an organisation, because we saw exactly in this pandemic situation that the virus doesn’t know any borders,” Janša said.
Janša’s comment was welcomed by Taiwan’s government.
“Prime Minister Janša is a good friend of Taiwan and he had visited Taiwan multiple times before. The Foreign ministry welcomes and sincerely appreciates his insightful comments on current major international issues,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry’s spokeswoman Joanne Ou said on Tuesday.
Slovenia, a former Yugoslav state that joined the EU in 2004, has been part of China’s “17 + 1” cooperation group created in 2012 to promote Chinese investments in Central and Eastern European countries.
Janša’s interview with Doordashan is part of an investment push with India. “India is Slovenia’s second most important foreign trading partner in Asia,” he told Economic Times at the weekend.
“In 2020, we recorded 339.62 million euros in trade in services and goods; therefore, our partnership with India is very important to us.”
Janša said he hoped the Adriatic port of Koper would see more involvement from Indian transport companies. “To further strengthen its presence in the Indian market, port of Koper is considering a permanent representative office in India.”
- AFP with additional editing by George Russell