UK urged to abide by one-China principle after security minister's provocative meeting with Taiwan regional official
Published: Jun 19, 2023 09:47 PM
UK US relations Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

UK US relations Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

As two nations with established diplomatic relations, it is only possible for there to be shared security interests between China and the UK, rather than between the UK and the Taiwan region. Asserting that a sovereign country and Taiwan island share common security interests is highly inappropriate and constitutes a grave interference in China's internal affairs, analysts noted.

British security minister, Tom Tugendhat, met Audrey Tang who heads the digital affairs agency on the island of Taiwan on June 14, marking the first time a British cabinet minister had met with a "minister" from the island in a meeting, which breaks British foreign policy convention, Reuters quoted people with knowledge of the talks as saying.

The sensitive nature of the meeting was borne out by the reluctance of several serving officials and departments to talk about what was discussed, media reported. A spokeswoman for the UK's Home Office said: "We do not routinely comment on private ministerial meetings."

One source told Reuters the meeting was about mutual security interests.

The meeting between the British security minister and an official from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Taiwan island is a clear violation of the commitments made by the UK in its diplomatic relations with the Chinese mainland, Zhu Songling, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Beijing Union University, told the Global Times on Monday.

It undermines the shared political foundation between China and the UK and represents an irresponsible act that damages the bilateral relationship, Zhu noted.

The Chinese embassy in the UK on Sunday strongly deplored and firmly opposed the meeting between Tugendhat and Tang, saying it violated the one-China principle and the basic norms of international relations. "It sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for so-called Taiwan independence and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs," said the statement.

The one-China principle is a basic norm of international relations and a universal consensus of the international community, said the spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the UK, adding that it is also the political foundation for the establishment and development of diplomatic relations between China and the UK.

Experts emphasized that the pragmatic diplomacy of the UK toward China is being overshadowed by political gestures and the UK's blindly following the US. It is foreseeable that the frequency of the UK aligning with the US in playing the "Taiwan card" may increase in the future, and become even more provocative.

The spokesperson said that China urges the UK to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and basic norms governing international relations, stop any official exchanges with the Taiwan authorities, and stop emboldening separatist forces for so-called "Taiwan independence."

"We want to make it clear to the UK that any actions that undermine China's interests will be met with resolute responses," said the spokesperson.