Left-Wing MEP Michael Wallace Soft Stance Towards China

Michael Wallace is an Irish politician and former property developer. He has been a Member of the European Parliament from Ireland for the South constituency since July 2019. Wallace is a member of Independents 4 Change, a component of The Left in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL. Since becoming an MEP in 2019, MEP has also accumulated attention for his foreign policy views, especially regarding China and Russia, which have been mostly critical of his positions. Mick Wallace has been criticised for backing Venezuela, Ecuador, PRC, Russia, Belarus and Syria during his tenure as an MEP.

Wallace expressed concern in the European Parliament in May 2021 concerning the EU’s hostility to China, stating, “Why are we choosing an antagonistic position with China? Why are we not choosing collaboration instead of aggression? Why are we not appreciating the principle of state sovereignty and non-interference? We should be functioning for peace with China; it’s in our interests”. Fine Gael and  Neale Richmond condemned his remarks and questioned why Wallace was “lionising China, Russia, Belarus, Syria.”

In July 2021, Wallace asserted reports of one million Chinese nationals of the Uighur ethnicity being imprisoned in concentration centres were “grossly exaggerated”. He was critical of the anti-Chinese oratory that he said was taking place in the European Parliament and some Irish media. Wallace made the statements in an interview with Irish radio station Newstalk. Earlier, he had said China “takes better care of its individuals” than the European Union in a discussion with the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times and commented that the Chinese Communist Party “deserved a lot of credit” for “enabling so many hundreds of millions in China to move out of poverty.”

In October 2021, Wallace posted a video on social media in which he disregarded the idea of Uighur mass imprisonment camps, saying that there was “never any solid evidence” of their presence. In the same video, Wallace stated that Taiwan is not separate from the People’s Republic of China and “is identified as such by the United Nations”. Wallace’s video was broadcast on Chinese state media, driving the government of Taiwan to offer an official denunciation of his assertions. 

A spokesperson for the Taiwanese government in Dublin commented, in response to Wallace, that the United Nations did not “permit the People’s Republic of China to designate Taiwan in the United Nations, let alone declare that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan is a dynamic democracy that is appreciated and backed by like-minded associates around the world. The right to democratic independence should not and will not be forfeited”. Wallace’s remarks also provoked other Irish politicians to speak out against him.

 Fianna Fail’s John McGuinness TD expressed he was “flabbergasted” upon first catching Wallace’s video and called upon Wallace to delete it. Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer reached  Wallace to speak to Taiwanese parties in Ireland and to appreciate the right of “democratic self-determination.”

A statement by The Irish Times in April 2022 represented Wallace and Daly’s media profile in China. It examined how, since January 2021, Wallace had been portrayed in more Chinese-language news articles than any other Irish person besides Daly. As a result of his notoriety in China, he is nicknamed by the Chinese the ‘Golden Lion King’ and ‘Silver Lion King’.

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