MPs to visit Taiwan amid heightened tensions

MPs on a prominent Commons committee are visiting Taiwan from Tuesday and will meet dignitaries over the next few days amid strained UK relations with China.The Foreign Affairs Committee said its members will be on the island, which China claims as its territory, until Saturday.It follows heightened tensions between the West and Beijing over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the self-ruling island in August.The UK is fortunate to enjoy strong cultural and trading ties with TaiwanThe Committee will meet President Tsai Ing-Wen, the Secretary-General of the National Security Council, Wellington Koo, and Premier and President of the Executive Yuan, Su Tseng-chang during the trip.Read MoreTory MP Alicia Kearns, the Committee’s chairwoman, said: “This visit to Taiwan has long been a priority for the Foreign Affairs Committee.“The UK is fortunate to enjoy strong cultural and trading ties with Taiwan, fostering shared ambitions on clean energy, education, advanced new technologies and more.“The multiple challenges to security and prosperity across the globe make constructive ties between democracies, such as those enjoyed by the UK and Taiwan, all the more important.“The Indo-Pacific, and the strength of our relationships in the region, is of huge importance to the UK. Within the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan’s voice is unique and invaluable.“Over the course of our visit, the committee looks forward to hearing from a range of individuals, from politicians to businesses and civil society groups.”The move is unlikely to help UK-China relations.Ms Pelosi’s trip in the summer prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to muster a range of military and diplomatic measures, including severing climate change talks with Washington for several months.Mr Xi has tightened his grip on power with an unprecedented third term in office, something which could embolden him in taking a more assertive stance towards the West and Taiwan.Taiwan has been self-governing since nationalist forces fled there in 1949 after the communists took control of China.It is considered to be a rebel province by China, which claims the island as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments.Rishi Sunak has declared the “golden era” of UK-Chinese relations over, though he said it was wrong to “rely on simplistic Cold War rhetoric”.The Prime Minister told the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London on Monday: “We recognise China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism.”But he also warned the UK “cannot simply ignore China’s significance in world affairs – to global economic stability or issues like climate change”.Mr Sunak has also emphasised the Indo-Pacific tilt to the UK’s foreign policy.