The UK voiced support for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait in a policy report published on Monday that mentioned Taiwan for the first time.
The Integrated Review Refresh 2023, which is built on the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, is an effort to guide the UK’s national security strategy in a “more contested and volatile world.”
China’s growing aggression in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait is “threatening to create a world defined by danger, disorder and division — and an international order more favorable to authoritarianism,” Monday’s report said.
China has “pursued rapid and opaque military modernization with huge new investments, militarized disputed islands in the South China Sea and refused to renounce the use of force to achieve its objectives with regard to Taiwan,” it said.
The China policy mapped out in the report reiterated the UK’s long-standing position that “the Taiwan issue should be settled peacefully by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait through dialogue and not through any unilateral attempts to change the status quo.”
It also condemned Beijing’s coercion against Vilnius by imposing economic sanctions after it opened the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania, the first office in Europe to be called “Taiwanese.”
The Chinese Communist Party strengthening its partnership with Russia, and continuing to disregard universal human rights in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong are also serious causes for concern, it said.
The UK vowed to bolster collective security with core allies and international partners to oppose behaviors that undermine international law, violate human rights or seek to coerce or create dependencies, it said.
In Taipei yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it “highly welcomed and sincerely appreciated” the pro-Taiwan rhetoric in the Integrated Review Refresh report.
The UK shares Taiwan’s values of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law, the ministry said, adding that the government would continue to “strengthen mutually beneficial and substantive friendly relations with like-minded countries such as the UK, based on the already solid foundation.”
In related news, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday announced that the UK is doubling funding for next year and 2025 to further boost skills and knowledge for government staff on China.
The funding is to support the cross-department “China Capabilities Program,” which aims to provide training on economic and military policy as well as Chinese-language skills, Sunak’s office said in a statement.
The UK launched a pilot program last year based on the 2021 Integrated Review to provide training in Mandarin to 170 civil servants, with 20 going through a language immersion program in Taiwan, it said.
The increased financial support can help “boost knowledge and language skills across government, in the face of the systemic challenge that China poses to the UK’s security, prosperity and values,” British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly said.
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