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EU cannot remain silent on China, top official says

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EU cannot remain silent on China, top official says

By Yang Cheng-yu / Staff reporter

The EU cannot tolerate increasing human rights abuses or remain silent in the face of an increasingly expansionist and aggressive foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific region and on a global scale, European Parliament Vice President Fabio Massimo Castaldo said in reference to China.

Castaldo made the remarks in an interview with Italian daily Il Manifesto published on Friday.

Compared with China’s advances in the region, Taiwan presents an alternative model, Castaldo said.

European Parliament Vice President Fabio Massimo Castaldo speaks at a news conference in Tunis on Sept. 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters

The importance of deepening relations with Taiwan lies in that the nation and the EU share the values of democracy and freedom based on pluralism, and they fully respect the rule of law, he said.

If the EU wants to bolster its diplomatic and economic presence in the Indo-Pacific region amid intensifying confrontations between rival powers, it would be impossible not to develop closer relations with partners that share common values and principles, including Taiwan, Japan, India, Indonesia and South Korea, he said.

Castaldo also commented on a report passed last week by the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs urging the EU to improve its relations with Taiwan.

The report says that the EU is increasingly concerned with China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific region, Castaldo said.

In the report, he emphasized Taiwan’s important position in the global supply chain and said that China has continued to obstruct the nation’s access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Regarding China’s retaliatory measures against Lithuania’s rapprochement with Taiwan and its protest against members of the European Parliament following the report, Castaldo used Hong Kong as an example, saying that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government had twice vetoed EU declarations of support for Hong Kong, undermining the internal solidarity of the EU.

The EU’s foreign policy cannot be taken hostage by vetoes or influenced by governments with financial interests, he said.

If the bloc’s 27 member states can act in unity, they would become leading figures in international politics, economy and diplomacy, he said.

On the other hand, if they are divided, they would be vulnerable and become irrelevant, he said.

Castaldo added on Facebook that it was time for Europe to strongly support bolstering relations with Taiwan.

Castado is the youngest European Parliament vice president in history, elected to office in 2017 at the age of 32.

He is a non-attached member of the European Parliament and a member of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the largest party in the country’s parliament.

Charter flight of 122 Taiwanese to arrive from Jakarta

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Charter flight of 122 Taiwanese to arrive from Jakarta

Staff writer, with CNA

A group of 122 Taiwanese, including two infants, were last night to arrive in Taiwan on a charter flight from Indonesia as the Southeast Asian country grapples with a serious COVID-19 outbreak.

The plane, chartered from Garuda Indonesia, was scheduled to touch down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 10:55pm.

The passengers were to stay at government-designated quarantine facilities, said Brian Ko (柯孝宗), head of consular services at the Taipei Economic and Trade Office in Jakarta.

The office has provided the passenger list to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Immigration Agency, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare to help arrange quarantine facilities.

Sixteen crew members were to remain onboard for a return flight at 11:55pm, Ko said, adding that 46 passengers, including two infants, were to board that flight.

Taiwan in June designated Indonesia as a high-risk country and has since applied tighter quarantine rules for arrivals who have visited or transited through the country in the previous 14 days.

China Airlines and EVA Airways temporarily suspended flights to Indonesia at the end of June due to the country’s worsening COVID-19 outbreak, canceling all flights bound for Indonesia until the end of this month.

Neighboring countries, such as Singapore, also prohibit travelers from Indonesia from transiting through their airports, which has made it more difficult for Taiwanese in Indonesia to return home.

The Indonesia Taiwan Chambers of Commerce and the Taiwan-Indonesia Tourism Development Exchange Association early last month helped strike a deal with Indonesia’s Batik Air to evacuate Taiwanese on a charter flight, but the airline backed out of the agreement on July 20.

Garuda Indonesia, which was not authorized to operate flights to Taiwan after halting them in 2014 due to low passenger volume, agreed to transport the passengers, and the Civil Aeronautics Administration on July 22 approved its application for a charter flight, association head Alex Chang (張志嘉) said.

A service center set up in Indonesia by the chamber said it would determine the demand for a second flight.