UK 'penny wise and pound foolish' to send trade minister to Taiwan island: expert
Published: Nov 07, 2022 10:14 PM

UK Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

UK Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

China urged the UK to adhere to the one-China principle and stop official exchanges with the island of Taiwan in any form after a UK trade minister started a two-day visit to the island on Monday. Analysts criticized the UK's provocative move, saying it would not help shift public attention from the political turmoil, energy crisis or severe inflation in the UK.

We have reiterated China's stance on the Taiwan question many times. There is only one China in the world and the island of Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. The Chinese government opposes any country that has diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China having official exchanges with the island, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a press conference on Monday. 

We urge the UK to respect China's sovereignty and adhere to the one-China principle and stop official exchanges in any form with the island of Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to the separatist forces in the island, Zhao said, noting that any attempt by the Taiwan authorities to collude with outside forces to seek independence is doomed to fail. 

Zhao's remarks came as British Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands heads to the island of Taiwan on Monday. During his two-day visit, he is scheduled to meet regional leader Tsai Ing-wen and "co-host the 25th annual UK-Taiwan Trade Talks," according to a release from the British government. 

The release also noted that visiting the island in person is "a clear signal" of the UK's "commitment to boosting UK-Taiwan trade ties." However, analysts criticized the move, saying no matter how many fancy excuses they use, the visit is a provocative move against the one-China principle, which will bring no good but only more mess to the British government. 

After former prime minister David Cameron resigned in 2016, the Conservative Party has lost its sober and balanced mentality, blindly following some of the US' strategic aims and wearing biased glasses when promoting global business, Zhao Chen, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

After Brexit, some leading figures within the British government have been seeking to build "Global Britain" and expand Britain's business networks globally - such an idea should encourage it to develop business in other countries around the world and not be confined by ideology or so-called democratic values, Zhao Chen said, noting that Hands' visit to the island of Taiwan violated Britain's promise to China and infringed on international law and basic norms of international relations. Such a move has also undermined the international image of the UK.

Following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's highly provocative visit to the island of Taiwan, some politicians in the US and some European countries have also visited or planned to visit to the island to show so-called support to the island, which drew a backlash from the island, as many people expressed their opposition to politicians from overseas turning the island into "a powder keg" while seeking profits for themselves.  

The release from the British government also noted that the trade partnership between the UK and the island of Taiwan has "gone up 14 percent" in the last two years, while analysts said that the British trade minister is being penny wise and pound foolish. Data from the UK showed that China was the UK's third largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2022, accounting for 6.9 percent of total UK trade. 

Zhao Chen noted that the market in the Chinese mainland is more attractive to global enterprises, especially for British companies in the cultural and creative industries. Moreover, overseas students from China and major cooperative projects with industry giants in China are also important for the UK. 

Unfortunately, the British government has not discarded its wrong mentality with its continuous changes in the government of the Conservative Party and lack of independence from US influence, Zhao Chen said, noting that it has not considered the country's economic and international position with broader and inclusive views. 

With the UK suffering various problems in recent weeks, especially after Liz Truss resigned as UK prime minister after one and a half months in office, and experiencing an inflation and energy crisis, some experts asked why British politicians weren't focusing on solving problems instead of bringing more mess. And hyping the Taiwan question, which is China's core interest, would not help shift the UK public's attention from their daily concerns, they said.