China has lashed out at the UK for sending trade minister Greg Hands to talks in Taiwan, insisting that “official contacts” with the self-governing island republic must cease.
Mr Hands is kicking off a two-day visit on Monday with discussions aimed at “boosting trade” and promoting UK expertise in hydrogen and offshore wind.
He is due to meet President Tsai Ing-wen and co-host the UK-Taiwan 25th annual Trade Talks in Taipei during the trip.
But China – which claims Taiwan as its own territory and has threatened to annex the island by force – has urged Britain to back off.
Beijing has sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, imposing visa bans and other forms of retaliation against foreign officials and governments that have reached out in the past.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing that the UK should uphold the so-called “one-China principle” and stop “any forms of official contacts with Taiwan”.
The island is excluded from the United Nations at Beijing’s insistence, with only 14 official diplomatic allies.
However, it has drawn increasing backing from major nations, including Japan, Australia, the US and Canada, and across Europe.
Rishi Sunak is attending Cop27 after previously stating he would not do so. Victoria Jones
A recent visit from Nancy Pelosi, the US House Speaker, sparked outrage from Beijing – with missiles fired over Taiwan into the Western Pacific and aircraft and ships positioned nearby in a virtual blockade of the island.
Mr Zhao said the UK should “earnestly respect China’s sovereignty, uphold the one-China principle, stop any forms of official contacts with Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan independence separatist forces”.
Ahead of his visit, Mr Hands said: “Boosting trade with this vital partner is part of the UK’s post-Brexit tilt towards the Indo-Pacific and closer collaboration will help us future-proof our economy in the decades to come.”
Talks with minister Chern-Chyi Chen will look at “tackling barriers to trade in sectors such as fintech, food and drink and pharma, aimed at helping more UK firms export and invest in Taiwan”, the Department for International Trade (DIT) said, adding that Mr Hands “will also promote UK expertise in offshore wind, hydrogen and electric vehicles”.
The UK’s £8 billion trade partnership with Taiwan has risen 14 percent in the last two years, according to the DIT, with UK exports to Taiwan going up by 12 percent during that period.
Amid the trade talks, Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency, will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan, “pledging to increase collaboration on technology and innovation”, the DIT added.