British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss on Wednesday warned China that failure to play by global rules would cut short its rise as a superpower, and said the West should ensure that Taiwan can defend itself.
Renewing her call to boost NATO, Truss said that moves to isolate Russia from the world economy in response to its invasion of Ukraine proved that market access to democratic countries is no longer a given.
“Countries must play by the rules, and that includes China,” Truss said in a speech at Mansion House in London.
She said that NATO needs to have a global outlook that extends to democracies outside its membership, citing Taiwan as an example.
“We need to pre-empt threats in the Indo-Pacific [region], working with allies like Japan and Australia to ensure that the Pacific is protected,” she said.
“We must ensure that democracies like Taiwan are able to defend themselves,” she added.
In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it warmly welcomed the comments, and would continue deepening its cooperation with the UK and other like-minded partners to jointly ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and an open Indo-Pacific region.
Taiwan is determined to stand in full solidarity with democratic partners and continue enhancing its defense capabilities to deter aggression and expansion of authoritarian regimes, the ministry added.
Britain and Taiwan have close, but unofficial ties.
The UK, the world’s sixth-largest economy, is dwarfed economically and militarily by China, but London believes that through soft power and strategic alliances, it can help persuade Beijing to play by the rules of a new, more dynamic international system.
China’s economic and military rise over the past 40 years is considered to be one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, which ended the Cold War.
Truss said its further rise is not inevitable.
“They will not continue to rise if they do not play by the rules. China needs trade with the G7. We [the G7 nations] represent around half of the global economy — and we have choices,” she said.
“We have shown with Russia the kind of choices that we’re prepared to make when international rules are violated,” she added.
Beijing has said it firmly opposes linking the war in Ukraine to its relations with Moscow, and that it will defend the rights of Chinese and Chinese companies.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said that China should persuade Russia to help end the war in Ukraine, or face a loss of standing in the world.
Additional reporting by CNA
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