Throughout her five-day trip to Taiwan which the Chinese embassy in London has called a “dangerous political stunt”, former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, asked on Wednesday, that Beijing be branded as a “threat” to the United Kingdom’s security.
Notably, Truss, who is also Britain’s shortest-serving PM, arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday and is also the first former British leader to visit Taiwan since Margaret Thatcher in 1996. Upon her arrival in Taiwan, the former UK PM was greeted by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
According to media reports, Truss is also due to meet President Tsai Ing-wen, however, officials are yet to confirm if the meeting will take place. The press conference on Wednesday also follows a closed-door speech at Taipei’s Grand Hyatt Hotel hosted by the Prospect Foundation, a government-funded think tank that focuses on cross-strait relations.
Truss’ visit to Taiwan
Truss addressed the press in Taipei City on Wednesday and challenged the incumbent PM to follow through his rhetoric when he called China “the biggest-long term threat to Britain,” during the Conservative party leadership contest. In the speech, Sunak also vowed to close nearly 30 Confucius Institutes in the UK, which promote Chinese culture on campus in higher education and some British schools.
However, the institutes teaching Chinese language and culture recently came under fire amid allegations that these centres are being used by Beijing’s government to spread propaganda, interfere with free speech on campuses, and even spy on students, reported BBC.
During a press conference in Taipei, the former UK PM also asked democratic countries to take a stand against China and make it clear to Beijing that it would face sanctions and other repercussions if it attacked Taiwan. It is “absolutely clear” that Chinese President Xi Jinping has the ambition of taking over Taiwan, said Truss.
She added, “We don’t know exactly when that could take place, we also don’t know how, and it’s my view that the preference of President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party would be to do it in a way that doesn’t involve using force, but I certainly think they would be prepared to use force if necessary,” as quoted by Al Jazeera.
As per media reports, she also drew comparisons between escalating tensions in China and Taiwan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
China’s reaction to the visit
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London, on Wednesday, said that Truss’s visit to Taiwan was a “dangerous political show which will do nothing but harm to the UK”.
The statement added, “We urge the relevant British politician to correct her wrongdoing, stop making political shows with the Taiwan question and stop conniving at and supporting ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces.”
Notably, the former UK PM is the most senior British lawmaker to visit the country since Thatcher in the 1990s. The embassy also suggested that the visit could have repercussions for the government of the incumbent PM Sunak.