The British Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee has made a significant statement regarding Taiwan, describing it as “already an independent country, under the name Republic of China (ROC).” This comment is seen as a direct snub to Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the self-administered island. The statement was included in a report on the UK’s Indo-Pacific strategy published on Wednesday. Chairperson of the committee, Alicia Kearns, stated that this is the first time in recent history that British MPs have openly supported Taiwan’s claims of statehood in a formal document.
Kearns further explained that while they acknowledge China’s position on Taiwan, they do not accept it. She emphasized the importance for Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to steadfastly and vocally support Taiwan. Cleverly had just arrived in China for a visit aimed at improving relations between the two nations. He is the highest-ranking British official to travel to Beijing in five years and is scheduled to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice President Han Zheng.
In an interview before his trip, Cleverly acknowledged the areas of fundamental disagreements with China but also stressed the need for a pragmatic and sensible working relationship. He highlighted the global issues that require cooperation between the United Kingdom and China.
Taiwan played a significant role in history, serving as the last refuge for Chinese nationalist forces during the civil war in the 1940s. However, most countries have switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, and neither side acknowledges the other’s statehood. The Chinese government has expressed its desire for reconciliation and peaceful reintegration of Taiwan but has also issued warnings of using force if Taiwan were to declare independence.
In response to the committee’s comment, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged British MPs to adhere to the “One China” principle and stop sending the wrong signals to pro-independence Taiwanese secessionist forces.
The parliamentary report clarified that the UK’s “One China” policy differs from China’s “One China” principle, and it merely acknowledges Beijing’s position. The report recommends that UK officials should be mindful of their statements and actions regarding Taiwan, urging them to refrain from misspeaking or being overly cautious.
This recent development highlights the complex and delicate nature of the relationship between the UK and China, particularly concerning the issue of Taiwan. It also reflects the growing international support for Taiwan, as more countries openly acknowledge its statehood and advocate for its position in global affairs. The UK’s stance on Taiwan will likely have implications for its relations with China and its involvement in the Indo-Pacific region.