GT Investigates: How Taiwan separatists buy favor from failed British PM Truss, more Western politicians to stage anti-China farce
Underhanded games
Published: May 17, 2023 10:27 PM
Residents in Taiwan protest in Taipei with a banner saying

Residents in Taiwan protest in Taipei with a banner saying "Get out" in Chinese against US arms dealers entering the island of Taiwan, condemning DPP authorities of relying on the US at the expense of the local people, on May 3, 2023. Photo: VCG

Former UK prime minister Liz Truss is currently on her five-day trip to the island of Taiwan, despite strong oppositions from both the island and her home country. Truss, who arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday and reportedly gave a speech there on Wednesday, is performing "a dangerous political show which will bring nothing but harm to the UK," condemned the Chinese Embassy in the UK on Wednesday.

The former British prime minister who served a historically short term in office is not only infamous for her political incompetence and unconsidered hardline anti-China stance, but also making a mess of China-UK relations during her 45-day term and colluding with Taiwan's separatist forces as a money-making scheme after leaving office.

British media said Truss' visit to the island of Taiwan could earn her "tens of thousands of pounds." This is not the first time Taiwan's secessionists have paid anti-China Western politicians to go to the island, and the latter usually chant empty slogans pandering to the former during their stints in Taiwan in exchange for high fees. Before Truss, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and former house speaker Nancy Pelosi also reportedly made similar easy money from Taiwan's separatists.

The island of Taiwan has unfortunately become a tool for some anti-China politicians to earn money and political capital, through the flattery and pandering of separatist Taiwan authorities, criticized observers from both sides of the Straits.

A foundation behind dirty deal

According to a report by The Mirror, a UK tabloid newspaper, on May 9, during Truss's visit to Taiwan, she was "set to meet top members of the Taiwanese government" and "also expected to deliver what aides described as a 'keynote speech,' which could earn her tens of thousands of pounds."

The speech that she delivered during her Taiwan visit on Wednesday was made at the invitation of a Taiwan local think tank, the Prospect Foundation. In a press release issued by the foundation on its official website, the foundation said that it is "deeply honored" to host Truss as a speaker in Taiwan.

Global Times found that the Prospect Foundation is listed among groups which have been sanctioned by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. Under the guidance of the DPP authorities, the foundation has been using the pretext of "democracy," "freedom," and "cooperation" to advocate for "Taiwan independence" while colluding with anti-China forces to create "one China, one Taiwan" or "two Chinas," a move that violates the one-China principle, said Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson of the Office.

People in charge of the institutions are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao, and organizations and individuals in the mainland are forbidden from cooperating with them, Zhu said.

The foundation, also known as the "Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation," nominally is a private academic institution established in 1997, upholding the banner of "consolidating the foundation's role as an exchanging and mutual visits platform with important international think tanks." 

However, the foundation also operates covertly as a peripheral organization of the island's intelligence agency under the DPP authorities, working as a tool for the island's authorities to collude with external anti-China forces.

The Common Wealth Magazine published in Taiwan pointed out directly in February that the Prospect Foundation focuses on foreign policy and studies on relations between major countries such as the US, China, and Japan. It is also tasked with collecting and analyzing "intelligence information" and has fixed board seats for the island's external affairs departments and security departments.

In its history, most of the foundation's chief directors and board members were top officials of the island, who played important roles in the island's external affairs and security departments before retirement. It is worth noting that Tsai Ming-yen, the current Director-General of Taiwan's "National Security Bureau" and Ko Chen-heng, deputy director general of the bureau are both directors of the Prospect Foundation. 

After Tsai Ing-wen took office, the foundation appointed Chen Tan-sun, a veteran pro-independence activist, as its chairman in 2016. His video column on the official website of the foundation is full of remarks that distort and slander the one-China principle, incite confrontation with the Chinese mainland, and advocate for war. Under his governance, the foundation has become a platform for collusion with external anti-China forces and promotes "Taiwan independence."

Easy money

A view of buildings in Taipei. Photo: IC

A view of buildings in Taipei. Photo: IC

Truss is not the only politician from a Western country to be invited by the foundation to visit Taiwan island. Dating as far back as February 2022, a month before former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo's visit to the island in March 2022, external affairs authorities in Taiwan confirmed that Pompeo's trip to the island was also at the invitation of the Prospect Foundation, and said that the foundation was a private think tank with an official background. 

During his visit in Taiwan, Pompeo delivered a speech, stating that "the US should formally recognize Taiwan as a country," which triggered an outcry among Chinese people. 

Later, according to an exclusive report by CNEWS, a Taiwan-based news website, on March 5, a file suspected to have been leaked from Taiwan's "office in the US" showed that Pompeo had been paid $150,000 for a speech, under the terms of an agreement signed by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US and US-based company Premiere Speakers Bureau, which sources guest speakers for events, according to a Taiwan media report.

Taiwan's external affairs department later responded to media that Pompeo's speech in Taiwan was hosted by the Prospect Foundation, which was also the signatory of a contract with the speech company, but the department did not explain the payment, arguing that it was not the contracting party.

In August 2022, when Nancy Pelosi, then US house speaker, visited Taiwan, an Internet user based in the island revealed on PTT, a Taiwan forum, that a US political public relations firm Gephardt Group Government had lobbied Nancy Pelosi 16 times since 2018, and the DPP authorities has paid about NT $94 million. But the statement was denied by the Taiwan authorities.

It is an international consensus that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. "However the DPP authorities, for the malicious purpose of splitting up China, courts foreign anti-China forces to hurt cross-Strait relations at the cost of large sums of money, including money from the island's tax payers," Ni Yongjie, director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, told the Global Times.

Including Prospect Foundation, separatist forces on the island pay Western anti-China politicians to speak for them, in order to create the illusion that "they are not alone," Ni pointed out.

By inviting Western politicians to visit the island, and paying them to deliver separatist speeches, the DPP authorities and related organizations try to pretend that they have many supports in the international community, Ni added.

Their "efforts" nonetheless won't make any real difference, as their conspiracy to try and split up China goes against international consensus and the long-term interests of people on both sides of the Straits, said Ni.

Scandalous tricks

People walk with an effigy of Liz Truss with a

People walk with an effigy of Liz Truss with a "No U Turns" placard during a parade at the annual Lewes Bonfire night celebrations on November 5, 2022 in Lewes, England. Photo: VCG

Truss' ongoing visit in the island of Taiwan has sparked widespread anger not only on the island but also back in the UK.

Truss' performative visit is "the worst kind of Instagram diplomacy," said Alicia Kearns, who chairs the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee. She criticized Truss' trip as little more than a vanity project aimed at keeping her profile high after her brief spell as prime minister in 2022, The Guardian reported on May 11.

Truss's trip "has the potential to upset the British government's carefully balanced approach to Chinese relations," The Guardian said. It quoted the British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly as saying that the UK should not "pull the shutters down" on Beijing.

In an article published on Sunday, The Independent called Truss' visit "selfish and disloyal," and has the potential to "complicate" the British government's position on Beijing. Earlier, PM Rishi Sunak's spokesperson said that it was a matter for individual lawmakers where they chose to travel, in response to a request for comment on Truss' trip.

"We have no diplomatic relations with Taiwan but a strong unofficial relationship," the spokesperson told reporters, according to Reuters.

British netizens don't buying it either. "Stop stirring things up," commented a netizen with the username"Bigchaff2." "Hasn't she caused enough problems here?" wrote another netizen who goes by "a bit annoyed."

A failed British prime minister, Truss brought China-UK relations to a low ebb, and has been giving speeches that mainly focus on confronting China after resigning. Much of her paranoid and irresponsible anti-China behavior has enraged the British public and embarrassed the current Sunak administration.

Truss usually makes ridiculous remarks that expose her simple, extreme, and ignorant mind in politics. Previously in Hiroshima in May, Truss called on G7 states to "prepare to impose tough sanctions" on Beijing if it "further escalates its military intimidation of" of Taipei. She also reportedly declared that they should "keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine."

"Yet what does calamity Liz do? She jumps in rhetorically with both feet, cliches flying," commented a The Guardian opinion piece on February 17.

In an opinion piece published by the Global Times on Monday, Mark Blacklock, a journalist and lecturer living in the UK, said that Truss "could be the house guest from hell, the type who talks nonsense, overstays their welcome, and leaves a mess for the host to clear up."

"Her current employment seems to be as a kind of traveling salesperson, traversing the globe to peddle her simplistic worldview," scoffed Blacklock. "This she does by giving speeches attacking China."

The ideology of these anti-China politicians is difficult to change, and there is always a group of people who are more wary of China, thinking that China's rise is a threat to them, Li Guanjie, a research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Global Governance and Area Studies, under the Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday.

"By visiting the island of Taiwan, these anti-China politicians are trying to achieve their own political goals," Li noted. "After Truss' very short term as prime minister, she still wants to return to the top position, so she constantly incites populist forces in the UK so as to achieve her own political goals," Li said.

In addition, some anti-China politicians want to bring more benefits to their families or careers. Under this consideration, they will employ anti-China moves at the invitation of certain institutions like the Prospect Foundation if the institution's political stance is similar to their own, Li pointed out.