Thu, Jan 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

UK concerned about East Asian security, envoy says

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

A delegation of British members of parliament (MPs) belonging to the foreigner affairs committee will visit Taiwan in April to investigate its role in maintaining peace and security in East Asia, the nation's top envoy to the UK said yesterday.

Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the UK Edgar Lin (林俊義) yesterday said that the UK has become more interested in and concerned about Taiwan in recent years due to the rise of China.

Lin said that this has led to more MPs joining the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, which has grown from 20 members to 50 now.

A 15-member delegation, led by the co-chairman of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, Richard Faulkner of the Labor Party, arrived in Taiwan for a five-day visit on Monday.

Lin, who accompanied the delegation during its visit in Taiwan, made the remarks yesterday in a meeting with the local media.

The group has been a staunch supporter in the British government to lobby for Taiwan's bids to join the World Health Organization (WHO) and keeping the EU arms embargo on China intact.

Faulkner said yesterday that, with Austria taking over the EU presidency from the UK beginning in January this year, he is concerned that Austria may not be as firm on maintaining the arms embargo.

"But we will work hard not to give Austria the opportunity to pull off the lifting of the arms embargo," Faulkner said.

He said that the EU might not deal with the arms embargo again very soon, because it is not currently on the EU agenda.

Faulkner said that the arms embargo is entirely a human rights issue, not a defense-policy issue, as a decision either way will send a signal to the rest of the world about the human rights situation in China and the threats it poses to its neighbors.

The passage of China's "Anti-Secession" Law has strengthened the British government's resolve to maintain the arms embargo on China, Faulkner added.

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