BRUSSELS: The European Union must deepen ties with Taiwan and start work on an investment deal with the island, EU lawmakers said in a resolution adopted on Thursday (Oct 21), angering Beijing, whose similar deal with the EU struck in 2020 has been put on ice.
The European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, with a majority of 580 votes to 26, backed the non-binding resolution requesting that the bloc's executive European Commission "urgently begin an impact assessment, public consultation and scoping exercise on a bilateral investment agreement".
The lawmakers also demanded that the bloc's trade office in Taipei be renamed the European Union Office in Taiwan, in effect upgrading the mission though neither the EU nor its member states have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin offered "strong condemnation".
"The EU parliament should immediately stop words and actions that undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he told reporters in Beijing.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry expressed thanks for the support, saying the resolution will "set a new milestone" for its ties with the bloc.
Military tensions between China and Taiwan have increased, with Taipei saying Beijing will be capable of mounting a "full scale" invasion of the island by 2025.
The EU added Taiwan to its list of trade partners eligible for an investment deal in 2015, but has not held talks with the democratically ruled island on the issue since then, although Taipei is keen on striking an agreement.
A similar investment deal agreed last year between the EU and its major trade partner China has been blocked for months. The European Parliament put its ratification on ice after Beijing imposed sanctions on EU lawmakers in a human rights dispute.
The tech powerhouse Taiwan, meanwhile, has become increasingly attractive for the EU amid a global shortage of semiconductors that has Brussels lobbying for key Taiwanese chip makers to invest in the bloc as they have done in the United States.