THE SEANAD has unanimously passed a motion which will see the Irish government support the freedoms and liberties of the people of Taiwan, and simultaneously speak out against "ongoing and sustained breaches of fundamental human rights in the People’s Republic of China."
The motion includes Ireland taking the view that no force should be used in any attempted unification of China with Taiwan and that the state should "condemn utterly the treatment of the Uighur population of Xinjiang province by the government in Beijing."
The Irish government should also adopt dealings with the people and government of Taipei on a basis similar to that adopted by most EU member states.
The motion was tabled on Wednesday by Senator Michael McDowell on behalf of sixteen other senators, who said he was privileged to travel to Taiwan to witness and see how its last general election was conducted.
"There was great engagement by the people and massive rallies for the various parties," he said. "There was a total commitment to ensuring the election was fair and free.
"That is something no other person in China is permitted to participate in at this time. There are no free and fair elections in the so-called People's Republic of China. It is a dictatorship run by the Communist Party of China, which claims to act in the interests of the people."
He also briefly outlined how Uighur people, the Muslim minority in Xinjiang province, are being treated by the Beijing government.
"A massive assault has been launched on their cultural, religious, ethnic and social existence.
"For ordinary Uighurs, this means families being broken up, people being brought to so-called re-education camps and interned in what we would call prisons and women having their reproductive rights greatly circumscribed by Chinese authorities."
McDowell called a 2018 letter from Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl which warned TDs and Senators against offending the Chinese government by engaging with Taiwan "deeply unfortunate" and "regrettable".
"I accept our significant trading interest with China, but that does not mean I must avert my eyes or close my mouth when it comes to the abuse of human rights in China," he added.
He said that by having relations with China, Ireland is de facto asserting the Chinese belief that the division between mainland China and Taiwan is not legitimate.
"I presume, however, we do not support the notion that any force could be used in an any attempted reunification of China with Taiwan," he said.
"We must make it very clear that we stand with those countries in the free world that absolutely and categorically reject such use of force and who stand with the people of Taiwan to say that any reunification of China and Taiwan can only be done by peaceful means.
"We accepted that principle in 1998 when we decided that peaceful means were the only way to Irish unity."
Senator Victor Boyhan, who shared time with McDowell in tabling the motion, said he would request the Minister for Foreign Affair publicly express concerns about the way "Christians are being mistreated under the Chinese authorities' new regulations for religious affairs, including crosses being removed, churches being raided and closed and pastors and spiritual leaders being arrested."
He also asked the Minister to raise the matter with the Chinese ambassador to Ireland.
"I do not mean over a cup of Chinese tea but that the Minister would call the ambassador to Iveagh House to clearly express the views that we will express here this afternoon."
Representative to Ireland Yang Tzu-pao thanked the senators for supporting closer relations between Ireland and Taiwan, while saying he the hope that the two sides would continue to cooperate on global challenges.