The Republic of China is a sovereign independent democracy and its status will not be diminished in any way by the stance of the British government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, following a British government statement that Taiwan’s status should be resolved through talks with China.
The British government, in response to an Internet petition launched by UK citizen Lee Chapman to demand official recognition of Taiwan as a nation, reiterated its official position that the issue of Taiwan’s status should be resolved through dialogue based on the wishes of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
“The 1972 Joint Communique between the United Kingdom and China set forth that: ‘The UK acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China and recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China,’” a response prepared by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王佩玲) said: “Since the Republic of China was established in 1912, it has been a sovereign, independent country and has developed relations with other countries independently.”
“In addition to close diplomatic relations with its allies, it has also developed substantive relations with other countries. It is also a member of many international organizations and is actively taking part in international affairs, such as rescue missions, by shouldering responsibility in the world community,” Wang said.
Chapman, reportedly married to a Taiwanese, initiated the online petition last month.
He said in his petition that because of its “one China” policy, the UK does not recognize the government of Taiwan and all relations between the two nations must take place on an unofficial basis.
“It’s time to change this,” Chapman said. “Taiwan is an independent country.”
As of Thursday, 20,855 people had signed the petition.
The British government has a policy to respond to all petitions that garner at least 10,000 signatures. If 100,000 signatures are collected within six months, a petition must be considered for debate in the British Parliament, according to British law.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the British government’s stance, Premier Simon Chang (張善政) said that substance is more important than it first appears.
“What can you expect the British government to say?” Chang asked, adding that China is helping the UK to build nuclear power plants.
“How else can it respond to such a petition?” he asked.
“Faced with a tough international situation, if we have to make a choice between substance and face, we think the former is more important,” he said, citing the substantive measures of free-trade treatment and industrial cooperation.
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