TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to a travel ban imposed by China as part of tit-for-tat sanctions, a member of European Parliament pointed out that there is nothing stopping him from visiting Taiwan, a comment likely to raise hackles in Beijing.
On Monday (March 22), the U.S., U.K., Canada, and the E.U. announced sanctions against four Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials and organizations connected with human rights abuses in Xinjiang. In response, Beijing immediately imposed its own sanctions on 10 European individuals, including seven politicians, and four European entities.
Among the European leaders sanctioned were German Member of European Parliament Reinhard Bütikofer, who is the chair of the European Parliament's China Delegation. Bütikofer has openly criticized China's crackdown in Hong Kong and forced labor of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and described the communist regime as an "international bully."
Unfazed by China's sanctions, Bütikofer took to Twitter to say he had been informed by the Chinese government that as part of the sanctions imposed on him, he would no longer be permitted to visit China, Hong Kong, or Macau. He quipped, "But then there is Taiwan."
Minutes later, fellow German MEP Engin Eroglu retweeted Bütikofer's post and wrote that the CCP had imposed sanctions on some of his colleagues. Bütikofer vowed that he would continue to speak up for the Uyghur people, and he then added one extra jab: "Plus, maybe it's time for a trip to Taiwan?"
Early the next day, European Parliament President David Sassoli tweeted that he stands in solidarity with the sanctioned MEPs, including Bütikofer. He added that the Chinese sanctions on the European leaders and institutions are "unacceptable and will have consequences."
A visit by Bütikofer would not be unprecedented, as he was a member of a cross-party delegation that visited Taiwan in July of 2018. During the trip, he met with both President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Yuan Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌).
The Chinese leadership has let me know that I will not be allowed to visit the mainland, Hong Kong or Macao. But then there is Taiwan. :-)— Reinhard Bütikofer (@bueti) March 22, 2021
Only a few hours after the EU #sanctions #China, some of my EP colleagues have been sanctioned by the CCP. We won't give in & will continue to speak up and stand united to #FreeUyghurs— Engin Eroglu (@EnginEroglu_FW) March 22, 2021
Plus, maybe it's time for a trip to #Taiwan? @bueti @MiriamMLex @rglucks1 @gahler_michael https://t.co/X7bfsRUAhb
We stand firmly with MEPs @gahler_michael, @MiriamMLex, @bueti, @rglucks1, @ilhankyuchyuk and the @Europarl_EN's Subcommittee on Human Rights who have been sanctioned by China.— David Sassoli (@EP_President) March 22, 2021
I reiterated my support to them and to the other EU individuals and bodies hit by these sanctions. pic.twitter.com/q2kpOu0UXy