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UK faces Chinese resentment over trade negotiations with Taiwan

Following one-on-one trade discussions with a senior trade official from Taiwan, Britain has been warned that Taiwan is a "inseparable part of China."

Midway through June, Taiwan's chief trade negotiator met with British counterparts to discuss bilateral trade between the two nations and to solicit advice regarding Taiwan's application to join the CPTPP, an 11-nation trade bloc.

However, following Taipei's minister John Deng's meeting with British officials, Beijing issued a warning to London.

"Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, it is not a country, which is universally recognized by the international community," according to a Chinese diplomatic spokesperson. Taiwan is a self-governing island, and the Chinese Communist Party views "reunification with Taiwan" as a major policy objective.

During his visit to London from June 16 to 18, Deng met with "economic and trade officials" from the British government, a representative of the Taipei Representative Office in the U.K. confirmed. "Topics including CPTPP and trade relations" were discussed, they added.

Deng met with British economic and trade officials, according to the trade department of Britain, which did not make the meeting public. However, they would not go into further detail about the discussions.

The two nations are working to strengthen their trade ties, and Taiwan is seeking guidance from Britain as it pursues CPTPP membership as well.

Since submitting its application at the beginning of 2021, Britain has been working through the CPTPP accession process. Official level discussions regarding its use were held in Sydney in June, and additional gatherings are anticipated in Tokyo in July.

A week after Beijing submitted its formal application to join the CPTPP in September of last year, Taiwan followed suit. Since the Chinese Communist Party's rivals fled to Taiwan and declared it a sovereign state after losing the nation's Civil War in 1949, China has claimed Taiwan.

The meeting takes place at a delicate time for relations between the UK and China as prominent Conservative lawmakers increase their criticism of Beijing.

Late last week, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Times Radio that with regard to Taiwan, the world needed to "learn the lessons from Ukraine." She argued that the free world needed to "make sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself, that we continue to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait."

China has declared that it "resolutely" opposes Taiwan's attempts to join the CPTPP. Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office issued a strong warning against any nation with diplomatic ties to [China] "negotiating and signing with Taiwan any agreement that comes with a meaning of sovereignty and is official in nature."

In 2021, the value of all goods and services exchanged between Britain and Taiwan was £8.3 billion.


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