A British minister will meet Taiwan’s president, sparking China’s ire

A British minister will meet Taiwan’s president, sparking China’s ire

TAIPEI (Reuters) – A British minister will visit Taiwan this week for trade talks and meet President Tsai Ing-wen, her office said on Monday, sparking an angry reaction from Beijing at the latest high-level engagement between a Western government and the island. .

China views democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and strongly opposes any official interaction between Taipei and foreign governments, believing it to be a show of support for Taiwan’s secession from China.

Britain’s Department for International Trade said Greg Hands, minister of state for trade, will meet Tsai and host the 25th annual UK-Taiwan trade talks during his two-day visit.

‚ÄúVisiting Taiwan in person is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to promoting UK-Taiwan trade links. Like the UK, Taiwan is a defender of free and fair trade underpinned by a rules-based global trading system,” his office said. statement.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China strongly opposes any kind of official exchange between a country with which it has diplomatic ties and Taiwan.

“We call on the British side to stop any kind of official exchanges with Taiwan and to stop sending the wrong signals to separatist forces for Taiwan independence,” he said.

Hands will also meet Taiwan’s chief trade negotiator John Deng and Economy Minister Wang Mei-Hua, his office added.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Economy declined to comment, saying the meetings it organized were closed to the media.

Taiwan views Britain as a like-minded democratic partner and has raised London’s concerns over recent Chinese war games near the island and its support for participation in international organizations, most of which Taiwan is blocked from over Chinese objections.

The UK, like Taiwan, is also seeking to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. Members agreed in February that Britain could go ahead with its application as it seeks a new trading relationship after leaving the European Union.

China has also applied to join.

The UK does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but the two have close economic and informal relations, and Britain has a de facto embassy in Taipei.

Western lawmakers and other officials are increasing their visits to Taiwan despite strong objections from Beijing, which views the island as its territory and tends to treat it as a separate country.

China staged war games near Taiwan in August after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Editing by Lincoln Fest and Toby Chopra)

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