A vote by the French Senate in favor of a resolution backing Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) and three other major international organizations has triggered an angry response from China. In response, Beijing is blocking Taiwan's entry, arguing it is not an independent state.
The Senate passed the resolution by a vote of 304 to 0 and 19 abstentions. The resolution called for the participation of Taiwan in the WHO, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Beijing, however, claims that it alone is the "only legitimate capital in China" which effectively prevents Taiwan from becoming a member of these organisations.
The resolution was published by the Senate Group for Exchange and Studies with Taiwan, headed by by Senator Alain Richard, a former Defence Minister.
On Friday, China's embassy attacked the resolution on its website, and outlined "strong concerns" and "firm opposition" to the move and points out that "the claim that Taiwan's absence from the WHO will create a 'loophole' in the global public health system does not hold water.
"This is a political sleight of hand by the Taiwanese authorities to use the pandemic to advocate 'Taiwan independence'" the statement says, and ends by reminding France that "all successive French governments since the establishment of Sino-French diplomatic relations in 1964" have "respected the one-China principle."
Meanwhile, Taiwan's foreign ministry was overjoyed. "Vive les relations Taiwan-France!" it said in a tweet. "Our sincere thanks to the Senate for unanimous passage of the resolution demanding the country's participation in international organizations like the WHO & its World Health Assembly, ICAO, UNFCCC & INTERPOL_HQ."
The group has previously triggered a barrage of criticism from Beijing when it announced, on 19 January, that its members were planning a trip to Taiwan "in the summer, pending health conditions."
China's Ambassador to France, promptly wrote a letter to the Senate, syaing it hoped that the senators would change their mind as it may "affect the status quo between Taipei and Beijing."
French-Chinese relations have become increasingly strained after France's participation in military- and naval exercises with Japan, India, Australia and the US in March and April.
From May 11-17, France will also take part in Japanese amphibious exercises in Japan.
For its part, Beijing has rejected the move as "hypocritical" and a "publicity stunt."
Relations between Beijing and the EU have also suffered after a series of tit-for-tat sanctions over criticism on the human rights situation in Xinjiang and China's treatment of Hong Kong, and recent suggestions that a long awaited trade deal should be put on hold.