British lawmaker and former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith has called on the free world to “categorically” support Taiwan and Lithuania in response to China’s bullying.
Smith, who led the Conservative Party from 2001 to 2003, said in an interview that the campaign launched by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which he initiated, calls on the world to support Taiwan and Lithuania, as both have faced intimidation from Beijing.
“Should the free world support them? Yes, categorically,” he said. “We need to be able to make it clear to China one way or the other that China cannot act unilaterally over Taiwan, and that the overflying of their military jets and the threats, the posturing, the undiplomatic language, is appalling.”
Many governments have chosen to ignore Beijing’s aggressive behavior toward Taiwan and those who support Taiwan on the world stage, he said, adding that such problems need to be dealt with.
He implored the Chinese government to “take a step back from its appalling behavior,” to cooperate and obey the rules that exist in the international order, as well as to value other important things such as human rights and freedom of expression, Smith said.
Established on June 4 last year, IPAC is an international cross-party coalition of more than 200 parliamentarians from the world’s democratic legislatures who are focused on creating a coordinated response to China with regards to global security, human rights and trade issues. Smith is the cochair of the alliance in the UK with Labour peer Helena Kennedy.
Lithuania is facing increased pressure from Beijing after its decision to open reciprocal representative offices with Taiwan and allow Taipei’s office in Vilnius to bear the word “Taiwanese” in its name, differing from those used by other foreign missions in countries with which Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic relations.
Due to his criticism of Beijing, Smith was one of five parliamentarians sanctioned by Beijing for spreading what it called “lies and disinformation” about China, and has since been banned from entering the country.
Earlier this month, he pressed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a British House of Commons session on whether he could offer assurances to Taiwanese regarding Britain’s support for their “right to democracy” and “self-determination,” after Beijing launched a propaganda campaign aiming to sow doubt about Washington’s security commitment to Taiwan after the US last month withdrew from Afghanistan.
Johnson said he was aware of the issues between China and Taiwan, and had discussed them with US President Joe Biden.
“The only way forward is to continue to support the American global leadership, and that is what we will do,” he said.
China has made public its ambitions to take over Taiwan, by any means, including force, Smith said, adding that it is clear Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will not change his goals for China.
That is a reality that the UK, the US and other democracies have to deal with, as Beijing’s ambitions will clash with allies in the Indo-Pacific region, he said.
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