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China warns Europe on Taiwan contacts ahead of minister’s trip

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Foreign Ministry urged Europe on Friday not to have any official exchanges with Taiwan or support “independence forces” ahead of a planned trip to the continent next week by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Taiwan, which is claimed by China, has no formal diplomatic ties with any European country except the Vatican. Beijing regularly denounces any form of contact between Taiwanese and foreign officials, viewing it as encouraging global recognition of Taiwan’s separate status from China.

On Wu’s Europe trip, which Taiwan’s government has not officially confirmed, he is expected to appear with Czech President Petr Pavel at a think-tank event in Prague, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Beijing views Taiwan as being part of “one China” and demands other countries recognise its sovereignty claims, which Taiwan’s democratically-elected government rejects.

Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Taiwan didn’t have a foreign minister, only a “head of the region’s local foreign affairs department”.

The “one China” principle is a prerequisite and the political basis for China to develop “friendly” relations with all countries in the world, Wang said.

“We urge the European side to understand the essence of the Taiwan issue, to abide by the solemn commitments made to China on the ‘one China’ principle, not to support Taiwan independence forces, and not to conduct official exchanges with Taiwan under any name,” he said.

“We also want to tell the Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party authorities that any separatist acts and attempts to gain self-respect from foreigners are doomed to end in failure,” Wang added, referring to Taiwan’s ruling party.

(Reporting by Liz Lee; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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