TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Freedom and democracy-loving nations all over the world on May 6th bid farewell to Taiwan's most loyal friend, Hans van Baalen, who passed away on April 29 in The Hague, Netherlands.
Since Hans van Baalen stepped into politics, he has been an internationally influential politician who firmly supported Taiwan. He not only had a strong sense of justice but also has the courage to say “no” to China.
When he visited China for the first time, the Chinese customs officer told him that he should no longer maintain friendly relations with Taiwan. Cutting off relations with Taiwan would be better for him in the future, the officer said.
Van Baalen replied that Taiwan has been a good friend for many years and told the officer that he would leave China immediately if the officer said this kind of thing again. Van Baalen ultimately only stayed in China for a week and Chinese officials did not dare to mention Taiwan to him again.
Van Baalen had visited Taiwan many times. No matter how far the journey was, he was always invited to visit. He loved this nation and its people.
He once told Yang Huang Mei Hsing (楊黃美幸), the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Liberal Women Association (APLWA), that his wife Ineke was pregnant with their now 15-year-old son Robert during a visit to Taiwan.
Hans van Baalen had served as a member of the Dutch parliament and the European Parliament, as well as the chairman of Liberal International and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party during his career.
From 1993-1998, he was the international affairs director of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, a Dutch political party. He and Yang, the director of international affairs for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party at the time, attended various Liberal International conferences together.
Because they shared similar values, the two became good friends who trusted and appreciated each other. Van Baalen was the strongest supporter of the organization and of the various Taiwanese-related proposals in the European Parliament.
When APLWA was established on October 24 last year, van Baalen recorded a special video blessing the organization and praising Taiwan as a great country.
His sudden passing is devastating for many, and the APLWA has prepared specially arranged flowers as a tribute to his legacy.
Hans, you were a true defender of democracy. You will always have a place of respect and gratitude in the hearts of Taiwanese.