A recent report by Nikkei Asia alleged that Greece has warned its officials not to attend events organized by Taiwan to avoid angering China.
The report cited an email reportedly signed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Papadopoulou asking Greek diplomats at home and abroad to steer clear of events hosted by Taiwan to avoid angering China.
The notice, marked “urgent” also warned against meeting with Taiwanese officials in Greek government buildings or de facto embassies known as Taipei Representative Offices.
“The participation of ministers, members of parliament and civil servants in receptions or events of the Representative Office must be avoided,” said the email seen by Nikkei.
Such behavior was “perceived as an indirect recognition of the independence of Taiwan” and may cause “serious problems” in Greece-China relations, the email added.
“Unprecedented move” by Greece
The Nikkei Asia said the warning was an “unprecedented move,” citing an unnamed source who received the notice and people familiar with the European nation’s Taiwan policy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan (MOFA) did not directly confirm or deny the authenticity of the reported warning in a written statement issued on Sunday.
According to Focus Taiwan, MOFA said that as a responsible member of international community, Taiwan always upholds respect and remains open-minded in conducting exchanges and interacting with foreign countries.
“Taiwan will never cave into China’s long-term and pervasive pressure, and unilateral behavior in altering the status quo,” MOFA said.
It will continue to enhance relations with like-minded countries based on the universal values of freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights, to contribute to regional and global security and prosperity, the ministry added.
Taiwan left out as Greece and China forge close ties?
China has a significant economic presence in Greece and is the country’s largest trading partner outside the EU.
The official warning came weeks before Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Beijing where he told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that he was keen to boost business ties and play a bridging role in Sino-European relations.
As Nikkei Asia reports, Greece has largely avoided diplomatic ructions over the Taiwan issue, but controversy arose earlier this year when former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou attended the Delphi Economic Forum in Athens.
Organizers reportedly altered his title as Taiwan’s ex-president due to opposition from the Chinese embassy. After a string of title changes, organizers finally settled on “former president of the Kuomintang party — Chinese Taipei.”