'Dangerous political show': Chinese embassy on Liz Truss’s trip to Taiwan

File image of Liz Truss. Reuters

A Chinese embassy spokesperson in London on Tuesday described former British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s visit to Taiwan as a “dangerous political show which will do nothing but harm to the United Kingdom.”

“We urge the relevant British politician to correct her wrongdoing, stop making political shows with the Taiwan question, and stop conniving at and supporting ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces,” a statement by the spokesperson published on the embassy website said.

Truss is the most well-known British politician to visit Taiwan since former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1990s, and her trip comes at a time when relations between Britain and China are the worst in decades.

She represents a section of the governing Conservative Party who oppose the British government’s approach to China, which involves seeking to engage in areas such as trade and climate change while trying to limit national security threats.

The former prime minister is likely to call on UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to declare Beijing a “threat” to UK security during a speech in Taipei City today.

According to the Guardian, Truss will ask Sunak to deliver on his rhetoric during last summer’s Conservative party leadership contest, when he declared China “the biggest-long term threat to Britain”. He also promised to close all 30 of the UK’s Confucius Institutes, which promote Chinese culture on campus in higher education and in some British schools, the report added.

Truss drums up support against China

Truss is also likely to urge the West not to work with China, warning that totalitarian regimes “don’t tell the truth”.

In a pre-briefed extract of her speech to the Prospect Foundation, she is likely to say, “There are still too many in the West who are trying to cling on to the idea that we can cooperate with China on issues like climate change, as if there is nothing wrong; that there are bigger issues than Chinese global dominance or the future of freedom and democracy.”

“But without freedom and democracy there is nothing else.”

Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with the Communist party in control of the mainland. The island has never been part of the People’s Republic of China but Beijing has insisted it must unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

A UK government spokesperson said it was in Britain’s interests to “continue engagement” with China while recognising the challenges the country presents, adding: “We have always been clear that China remains the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security.

“That’s why our integrated review refresh sets out a new approach to dealing with the challenge which China presents for the UK and the wider world.”

With inputs from agencies

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