TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A delegation of French senators arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday (Oct. 6) as part of a four-day visit during which they will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) among other leaders.
At 6:41 a.m. on Wednesday, Alain Richard, chairman of the French Senate's Taiwan Friendship Group, arrived with his delegation at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Joining Richard were Max Brisson and Else Joseph, who are vice presidents of the Taiwan Friendship Group, the group's secretary Judith Bout, and Olivier Cadic, vice chairman of the French Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
Alain Richard (center) arrives at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport with delegation. (CNA photo)
During the trip, which is slated to last until Oct. 10, the delegation will meet with Tsai, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Legislative Yuan President You Si-kun (游錫堃), Control Yuan President Chen Chu (陳菊), and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮). They will also meet with the heads of various ministries and committees such as the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Mainland Affairs Council.
You and Wu will both host banquets to honor the delegation. Also on the agenda is a visit to the Shawan History and Culture Park in Keelung.
Foreign Minister Tseng Ho-jen (right) greets Richard. (CNA photo)
Richard has long been a firm advocate for Taiwan and since taking over as chairman of the Taiwan Friendship Group in 2015, he has endeavored to strengthened relations between France and Taiwan. In February, China's Ambassador to France Lu Shaye (盧沙野) sent a "harshly worded" letter to Richard condemning his group's planned trip to Taiwan to discuss the country's COVID-19 containment efforts.
Lu complained the trip would not only "threaten the status quo between Beijing and Taipei" but would also send the wrong message to pro-independence forces in Taiwan. Richard stated that he was "very displeased" by the tone of the letter and vowed to give the embassy a very clear reply.
In September, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Spokesperson Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) tried to pressure Richard to scuttle the trip at the last minute, claiming that Beijing “resolutely opposes” any official exchanges between countries and “China’s Taiwan Area." She added that Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party-led (DPP) government will fail in "colluding with external forces to seek independence."
Olivier Cadic (left) walks side by side with Richard. (CNA photo)
In addition, Richard in May proposed a resolution titled, "Taiwan's participation in international organizations," which called for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) and three other major international organizations. The resolution passed with a vote of 304 to 0, and 19 abstentions on May 6.
This is Richard's third visit to Taiwan, following previous trips in 2015 and 2018. During this trip, the two parties will exchange views on various issues including post-pandemic economic recovery, regional security matters, and continued exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and France.
Tseng, Cadic, Richard, Else Joseph, and Max Brisson. (CNA photo)