By Haider Abbas
It is now almost within a fortnight that Rishi Sunak, the PM of United Kingdom, has provoked China over Taiwan, as his minister Greg Hands is on his visit to Taiwan on November 8, which has made Beijing to breathe fire as China looks at Taiwan with a ‘One-China-Policy’ and considers Taiwan as its part. This provocation has come, within months, when a high-profile US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had visited Taiwan on August 3 last, which had drawn scorns from Beijing then too.
UK has called it as a visit for trade-relations as the Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands will co-host annual talks and meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during his two-day visit. The UK Department for International Trade said, the visit “is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to boosting UK-Taiwan trade ties. Like the UK, Taiwan is a champion of free and fair trade underpinned by a rules-based global trading system. “Hands said boosting trade with a “vital partner” like Taiwan was “part of the UK’s post-Brexit tilt towards the Indo-Pacific and closer collaboration will help us future-proof our economy in the decades to come, ” informed VOANews. 1
The obvious and understandable reaction from China was on the expected lines as China got fumed over the UK move and wanted that UK abide by One-China Policy, as the visit by Rishi Sunak minister has just left China more angrier, than in the last case when Nancy Pelosi had visited, as China conceived it as a deliberate provocation, which made Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian to declare that there is only one China and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and that “China rejects any form of official exchanges with Taiwan region by any countries having diplomatic ties with China. The one China principle is the political foundation for China and the UK to develop their bilateral relations. We urge to UK to earnestly respect China’s sovereignty, abide by one-China principles, stop any form of official exchanges with Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan separatist forces. We also make clear to Taiwan authorities that any attempt to seek independence with collusion of external forces is doomed to fail,” informs TimesNowNews 2.
However, the Chinese stand was ridiculed by UK as its minister Greg Hand called it as ‘exciting’ on his first foreign visit since he had rejoined the UK Department of International Trade and referred that his in-person visit to Taiwan is a clear signal of Britain’s commitment to boosting UK-Taiwan trade ties. Ne lauded ‘Taiwan which like UK is a champion of free and fair trade underpinned by a rules-based global trading system,’ claims the official government statement of UK on Gov.uk 3 as Taiwan is a growing destination for British business and investment. It is also ironic that ‘UK and Taiwan do not have any formal diplomatic ties but have close economic and informal relations and that Britain maintains a de facto embassy in Taipei,’ the capital of Taiwan, tells ThePrint.in 4 on November 7.
There had however been a further boost to UK and Taiwan relations when Taiwanese envoy Kelly Hsieh, had signed Late Queen Elizabeth II condolence book, on September 18, in London on the UK government ‘special-invite’, and which, had drawn strong criticism from China. China leaves no qualms that Taiwan is Chinese territory and very strongly objects to any official interactions between Taipei and foreign governments.
Meanwhile, what also assumes significance is the abrupt ‘moving-out’ of Rishi Sunak from the climate conference in Egypt at COP 27 event, on November 7, as two of his aides ‘confided’ to him, which forced him to abruptly leave the venue! He simply rushed-out, which left the other dignitaries ‘baffled’ as he was on stage while he was interrupted by his aides and was persuaded to leave the event. Leo Hickman is the Director of UK-based Carbon Brief. The other interesting part is that as yet there hasn’t been any statement issued by the 10 Downing Street as to why the British PM made the dramatic exit? The United Nations climate conference, commonly known as COP 27, was left wondering about the first non-white British PM, accused as ‘a failure of leadership’, who had earlier declared to not to attend the conference, but had made a U-turn, on UK’s commitments to Glasgow pledges, and yet ended up as a mockery of his own. His antics sent a message about Britain’s non-seriousness about the grave climate issue.
What however also needs to be put into perspective is that UK has irked China amid Russia’s claim that UK is a terrorist state, as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has accused UK to have attacked the Russian naval fleet in Black Sea on October 29, and summoned its envoy to Moscow, which UK has dismissed as ‘false’, and now UK has invited a fresh face-off with China, apart from the ongoing tussle with Russia. Russia has also accused UK along with US to have attacked its Nord Stream gas pipeline, on September 26, as well.
Amid the lurking nuclear war, between Russia and Ukraine, which may engulf the whole world, is what the world is precarious about, while India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishanker is on his first visit to Moscow, since February when the war broke, amid the growing nuclear-rhetoric which is being mirrored through various Russian news outlets, highlighted by Hindustan Times 5 on November 6, which says, ‘Russian television host bragged about Russian hypersonic missiles that are capable of hitting London in just 9 minutes.’ India has as yet maintained a razor-balance between Russia and US, but the world situation is getting worse, as war clouds are all around. How will the visit of EAM come out amid the China-Russia tango on UK and US is what the time will tell.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international politics.