Swiss politician defends controversial Taiwan visit

Fabian Molina is one of five Swiss parliamentarians visiting Taiwan despite Chinese objections Keystone / Anthony Anex

A Swiss parliamentarian currently visiting Taiwan says it is more vital than ever to support democracies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This content was published on February 6, 2023 minutes

“The terrible war in Ukraine has shown to the world the fragility of peace and rules-based multilateral world order,” Social Democrat Fabian Molina told Swiss public broadcaster SRF.

“It enormously important to stand up for multilateralism and democracy worldwide and seek dialogue.”

+ Read more about Switzerland’s complex relationship with Taiwan

Molina is one of five members of the Swiss-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Swiss cross-party parliamentarians who touched down in Taipei at the weekend. They are due to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday despite opposition from China.

Molina said the aim of the visit is to build on research, education, science and business co-operation between the two countries and to “support Taiwan in the peaceful settlement of its conflict with China”.

Switzerland formally recognises Beijing’s ‘One China’ doctrine that Taiwan is part of the mainland. But Taiwan continues to resist pressure to submit to Beijing rule, which has led to heightened fears of a future military takeover by China.

A visit to Taiwan last year by then United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi enraged Beijing and the Swiss visit has also faced difficulties. On Monday, the Chinese embassy to Bern repeated its earlier condemnation of the trip, saying it interfered in China's domestic policy. 

The Swiss parliamentarians were accused of acting in their own political self-interests in making the journey to Taiwan.

+ More on Switzerland’s official policy position on China

On Sunday, the SonntagsBlick newspaper reported a threat to attack Taiwan’s rail system if the Swiss visit went ahead.

But Molina insisted that China should not be allowed to dictate Swiss foreign policy and warned that an invasion of Taiwan would cause enormous damage to both democracy and the global economy.

He added that the trip had been planned for some time and had been delayed by the pandemic.

Switzerland has walked a foreign policy tightrope in its relations with China, forming closer economic ties but more recently becoming more vocal about human rights problems.

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