Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - Page 1 News List

British minister expresses support for Taiwan, calls for ‘constructive dialogue’

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

British Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN Tariq Ahmad speaks at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi on Nov. 26 last year.

Photo: AFP

A high-ranking British official has joined the wave of international support for Taiwan following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) threat of the use of force against the nation, saying that London opposes any action that could raise tensions in the region.

British Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN Tariq Ahmad made the remarks in response to a written question submitted by British House of Lords member Navnit Dholakia on Monday last week.

Dholakia, who serves as one of the vice chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, asked the British government “what assessment they have made of any risks to regional peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

“In his 2 January speech, Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged Taiwan to accept reunification with China, restating China’s long-held position that it can use all necessary measures, including force, to secure this aim,” Ahmad said in the written response on Wednesday.

Britain opposes any action that raises tensions in the region and hinders the chances of the peaceful settlement of any issues, he said.

“In line with our long-standing position on Taiwan, we encourage Taiwan and China to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve this issue, taking into account the views of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Ahmad said.

Xi said in the speech earlier this month that although Beijing is willing to do its utmost to achieve unification through peaceful means, “we make no promise to abandon the use of force and reserve all methods necessary” to realize that goal.

He also proposed exploring a version of the “one country, two systems” model to achieve unification with Taiwan.

Ahmad’s response was the first time the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has publicly opposed China’s military threats against Taiwan, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said in Taipei yesterday.

The ministry also issued a statement thanking Ahmad for demonstrating his support for free and democratic Taiwan, saying that it would continue to work with Britain and other like-minded nations to ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

On Monday last week, Dholakia also asked the foreign office what discussions it has had with China about the latter’s “one country, two systems” policy toward Taiwan.

Ahmad responded by saying that the British government has routine discussions with China regarding Taiwan, adding that Britain maintains its stance that the issue should be settled through constructive dialogue in line with the views of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

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