China Seethes As UK Trade Minister Makes Rare Taiwan Visit

China in a blistering rebuke to the UK has demanded it stop all official exchanges with Taiwan as this week British Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands is visiting the self-ruled island. He landed in Taipei Monday, which marks the first trip of a British minister to Taiwan since 2018

“We urge the UK to earnestly respect China’s sovereignty, uphold the One China principle, stop any form of official interaction with Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan independence separatist forces,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. “China firmly rejects any form of official exchanges with the Taiwan region by any countries having diplomatic ties with China.”

British Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands, via AFP

Zhao further demanded that “stop any form of official exchanges with Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan separatist forces.

During the two-day visit Trade minister Hands will meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and he’ll co-host the 25th annual trade talks between the sides. This is expected to lead to a written agreement outlining a plan for deepened cooperation and trade.

The talks are expected to address remaining barriers in a number of sectors, including “fintech, food and drink and pharma” – at a time trade between the two is quickly rising, having risen 14% over the last two years, to an estimated $9 billion

The foreign ministry condemnation and statement was typical in terms of the response to Western government officials’ visits to Taiwan.

Of course, the fiercest reaction came in the wake of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit in early August. China fired a missile over the island and conducted many days of encircling large-scale military drills. 

As for this week’s UK-Taiwan trade talks, London and Taipei are expected to produce Memorandum of Understanding pledging increased collaboration between the two sides’ respective respective economy and trade ministries especially in the areas of technology and innovation.

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