A delegation of Canadian politicians called on the President of Taiwan In Taipei on Wednesday to discuss the Chinese government’s allegations of military aggression and foreign interference.
“Even when we got here, there are 160 warplanes flying overhead and they’re doing naval exercises,” said Liberal MP John MacKay, referencing this week’s Chinese military exercises.
“Our message to them is that the fight for Taiwan is Canadian fight,” he said.
Canadian lawmaker arrives in Taiwan in latest show of Western support after Tsai’s US trip
10 canadian parliamentarians includes representatives of moderate, traditionalist, NDP and Bloc Québécois. They wore pins on their lapels featuring the flags of Taiwan and Canada and were greeted with a warm smile and handshake by President Tsai Ing-wen.
“Canada is a very important democratic partner,” Tsai told the delegation from her podium in a briefing room inside the presidential office building.
“In the face of continued authoritarian expansionism, it is even more important for democracies to actively unite.”
Canadian lawmakers presented Tsai with a hardcopy of a report passed unanimously last month by the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, which called for closer ties with Taiwan and an end to Chinese military aggression .
Previous visits to Taiwan by Canadian politicians, such as last year, have largely focused on issues such as trade. But the tone of the conversation on this visit was far more acrimonious.
Taiwan’s representative to Canada, Harry Ho-jen Tseng, who traveled with the delegation, said Taipei’s relationship with Ottawa was being increasingly reshaped by an increasingly bold and brazen Beijing.
“Even though the relationship between Canada and Taiwan has been very comprehensive over the years, at this particular time, the issue of security and national defense seems to be more important than anything else,” Tseng told Global News in Taipei.
Delegation from Canada visits Taiwan after end of China maneuvers
The Canadian delegation’s security is at the center of concerns over the Chinese government’s alleged foreign interference in Canadian elections. During their week-long visit to Taiwan’s capital, which is being funded by Taipei, Canadian lawmakers visited the offices of an NGO called Doublethink Lab, which in recent years has focused on fact-checking and debunking misinformation. One of the many groups that emerged for Chinese government propaganda targeting Taiwan.
“Taiwan is sort of ground zero for Chinese propaganda,” said Ai-Men Lau, a Canadian research analyst who works for the NGO.
“I think it’s quite amazing to be here in Taiwan, seeing how civil society in Taiwan has really risen up to address this issue.”
Trudeau calls China’s military exercises around Taiwan ‘problematic’
Michael Chong, a conservative foreign affairs critic and member of the delegation, said Canada could learn from Taiwan’s experience.
Ariana Grande addresses concerns over her weight: ‘You never know what someone’s going through’
Bank of Canada not expecting interest rate cut this year as it keeps hold
“Taiwan has long been subject to foreign interference from Beijing,” he said. “We can learn a lot from how the government of Taiwan has built resilience in its population and in its citizens and society against this foreign interference.”
Opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of Taiwanese citizens want to remain a democracy and secede from China. But these high-profile meetings with democratic world leaders have at times proved polarizing here.
Taiwan says China plans to close airspace for a short time
Following Tsai’s meeting with top US officials, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, last week, the Chinese government launched three days of military exercises around Taiwan involving dozens of warplanes and ships.
Some Taiwanese feel diplomatic photo-ops don’t deserve Beijing’s wrath.
“The issue has been divisive in Taiwan, as some people think it is too provocative against China,” said James Yifan Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Diplomacy and International Relations at Taipei.
“Mostly, we want to maintain a so-called status quo.”
Taiwan’s president calls China’s military drills “irresponsible” as planes, ships remain around the country
Chang En-lo, leader of Taiwan’s pro-China Reunification Party and convicted former gang leader, said the Canadian delegation should go home.
“They should mind their own business and sort out their own problems before talking about these things,” he said. They need to consider themselves,” he said, alluding to the mistreatment of Indigenous people by the Canadian government.
“Maybe I should tell Canada how to deal with its indigenous people,” he said.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa has so far not commented on the Canadian delegation in Taiwan. Asked by Global News whether they are concerned that their visit could further inflame the Chinese government against Taiwan, the lawmakers shook their heads.
Chong said, “Not at all, because these visits are part of a decades-long policy between democracies to send parliamentary delegations to Taiwan.”
“What has changed is the position of Beijing. They have become more aggressive. And we cannot appease that behavior by bowing down to it.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.