French senate delegation touches down in Taiwan

A delegation of French senators led by Alain Richard, head of the French Senate's Taiwan Friendship Group, arrived in Taiwan early Wednesday morning for a five-day visit.

They touched down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 6:41 a.m. and were welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Harry Tseng (???).

During their visit to Taiwan, the delegation will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (???), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (???) and a number of senior officials in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Health and Welfare, and Mainland Affairs Council.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that the delegation will adhere to Taiwan's COVID-19 pandemic measures, but has not explained why the visiting politicians are not being subjected to Taiwan's standard 14-day quarantine rule for all arrivals to the country.

In a statement released Tuesday, Presidential Office Spokesperson Xavier Chang (???) said President Tsai will award Richard with the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon, to honor the senator's support for Taiwan and his contributions to the development of Taiwan-France relations.

"Richard has actively promoted exchanges between Taiwan's and France's legislature, and his support for Taiwan in the face of suppression has left a strong impression on the Taiwanese people," Chang said.

The president is scheduled to meet with Richard on Oct. 7 at the Presidential Office, he said.

In March, Richard proposed a resolution in the French Senate to support Taiwan's participation in the activities of international organizations, including the World Health Organization, which was officially adopted by the Senate in May.

It was the first time the body passed a resolution in support of Taiwan, Chang said.

Richard has previously visited Taiwan in 2015 and 2018. When he was planning his third trip to Taiwan early this year, China's ambassador to France, Lu Shaye (???), expressed Beijing's strong opposition to the visit.

The trip was delayed for months because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan in May, but after French media reported in late September that Richard would soon travel to Taiwan, the Chinese Embassy in France reiterated its opposition to the visit.

The visiting delegation also includes Max Brisson and Else Joseph, both vice presidents of the friendship group; Olivier Cadic, vice president of the Senate's Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee; and friendship group secretary Judith Bout.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel