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British Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen hold framed artwork showing Taiwan
British lawmaker Alicia Kearns (l) met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wenImage: via REUTERS

Taiwan: UK lawmakers talk defense cooperation during visit

December 2, 2022

"Taiwan has friends. And Taiwan does not stand alone," said the head of the UK delegation, Alicia Kearn, while visiting the island. China warned the UK to "stop interfering."


A delegation of British lawmakers in Taiwan discussed defense cooperation with Taipei, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns said on Friday.

The UK does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Beijing considers the self-governing island to be part of its own territory.

What did British lawmakers discuss in Taiwan?

Kearns told reporters following a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen that their discussions focused on maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. London has been seeking to re-examine its policy toward the region since its withdrawal from the European Union.

"We talked about the joint cyber threats that we all face from different adversaries, we discussed disinformation and of course we discussed traditional military conflict," the head of Britain's delegation said.

"We talked about how we as an international community work together to prevent, and therefore the importance of deterrence diplomacy," she said. "Defense cooperation was discussed as part of that because it should be part of a whole conversation that takes place."

Britain has been helping Taiwan develop and built submarines domestically.

"Taiwan has friends. And Taiwan does not stand alone," Kearns stressed.

Taiwan leader Tsai thanked British lawmakers for "supporting Taiwan through actions".

"Democratic countries must stand more united than ever in the face of authoritarian expansion," Tsai said.

China snaps back at UK delegation

The Chinese Embassy in Britain said that the visit by UK lawmakers was a "flagrant violation of the One China principle," referring to London's official stance on Taipei.

"The Chinese side urges the UK side to abide by its commitment, stop any actions that violate the one-China principle, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs," an embassy spokesperson said in a statement.

"Moves of the UK side that undermine China's interests will be met with forceful responses from the Chinese side."

Kearns said that the embassy did not contact her before the trip to Taiwan, adding: "I would be disappointed if the Chinese ambassador has criticized us for coming here because dialogue matters."

Tensions have intensified between Beijing and Taipei since former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island. Since then, other Western delegations have followed suit and expressed support for Taiwan.

On Monday,  British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the "golden era" of relations with China was over, adding that Beijing represented a "systemic" challenge to UK interests.

sdi/dj (dpa, Reuters)

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