TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The legislature of the Belgian region of Flanders has overwhelmingly passed legislation declaring support for Taiwan and calling for deeper ties with the country as China continues to block it from meaningful engagement.
The Flemish Parliament on Wednesday (March 3) passed the resolution with 117 votes in favor, zero against, and four abstentions.
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) praised the body Thursday (March 4), noting it had called on the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, to enhance its contacts with Taiwan at every level, including by expanding cultural, economic, and academic collaboration with the Asian country and supporting its freedom and democracy. The bill also encourages the signing of EU-Taiwan bilateral investment agreements.
Meanwhile, the Flemish resolution directs the government of the Dutch-speaking region to promote Taiwan's participation in international organizations it is currently excluded from due to pressure from China, including the World Health Organization, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and International Civil Aviation Organization.
Calling Taiwan an important trading partner of Flanders, Belgium as a whole, and the EU, the legislation also noted the escalating tension between the island country and China, saying this is damaging to the international economy in addition to regional security. Finally, the body called for both sides to refrain from unilateral actions that could threaten peace in the Taiwan Strait and for China to release Taiwanese political prisoners.
National legislators in Belgium's Chamber of Representatives passed a similar resolution with broad support last summer, but this is the first time Flanders has passed legislation expressly in support of Taiwan. The ministry stated that Taiwan and Belgium have long enjoyed warm relations, pointing to memorandums of understanding the two sides previously inked on investment, education, technology, public health, vocational training, and green energy.