China angered as U.K. trade minister visits Taiwan

Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands will co-host annual talks starting on Tuesday and meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during his two-day visit, the Department for International Trade said

November 07, 2022 09:02 pm | Updated 09:02 pm IST - Taipei

A globe is seen in front of Chinese and Taiwanese flags in this illustration

A globe is seen in front of Chinese and Taiwanese flags in this illustration

A U.K. Trade Minister arrived in Taiwan on Monday for the first in-person talks since the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to boost ties with the self-ruled island, sparking a rebuke from Beijing.

Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands will co-host annual talks starting on Tuesday and meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during his two-day visit, the Department for International Trade said.

Mr. Hands noted that Britain and Taiwan were both centers for global technology and that the "flourishing" island was a "vital partner" as the U.K. seeks new trade in the Pacific after Brexit.

The visit would help "future-proof" the U.K. economy by securing Taiwanese supply chains in semiconductors and electronic components, he wrote in The Times newspaper.

But China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, took umbrage at the trip by Mr. Hands — the first by a British minister to the island since 2018.

Beijing urges Britain to "stop any form of official exchanges with Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan separatist forces", Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

In London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesman denied any change towards U.K. diplomatic recognition of China.

"We have a vibrant, longstanding relationship (with Taiwan) on areas like trade and culture and this will form part of that engagement," he told reporters.

Taiwan has seen a flurry of visits by foreign officials and lawmakers in recent months, the most high-profile of which was U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose trip infuriated Beijing.

China staged unprecedented military drills in retaliation for Mr. Pelosi's visit in August, sending tensions to their highest level in decades.

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