In a historical precedent, the British parliament described Taiwan as an “independent country” in an official document ahead of an expected visit to China by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
“Taiwan is already an independent country, under the name Republic of China,” a committee report states. “Taiwan possesses all the qualifications for statehood, including a permanent population, a defined territory, government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states — it is only lacking greater international recognition.”
The recognition of Taiwan’s independence in Wednesday’s report by the foreign affairs committee in parliament’s House of Commons is expected to be met with backlash from China. While the democratic island of Taiwan has its own government, China has refused to recognize Taiwan’s independence.
Committee Chairperson Alicia Kearns, who is a part of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party, told Politico that Wednesday’s report is the first declaration the nation has made concerning Taiwan’s independence.
“We acknowledge China’s position, but we as [the foreign affairs committee] do not accept it,” Kearns said. “It is imperative the foreign secretary steadfastly and vocally stand by Taiwan and make clear we will uphold Taiwan’s right to self-determination.”
Kearns emphasized that parliament’s commitment to Taiwan not only aligns with the nation’s values but also serves as a bold message to “autocratic regimes worldwide that sovereignty cannot be attained through violence or coercion.”
Following the release of the parliament’s report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed the recognition of Taiwan’s independence was “reversing right and wrong and confusing black and white.”
“China urges the British parliament to adhere to the ‘one China’ principle … and stop sending the wrong signals to pro-independence Taiwanese secessionist forces,” Wang said, according to Politico.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed gratitude for parliament’s report, including a ministry spokesperson who said, “We are grateful [for] the British parliament’s support for Taiwan’s status and international participation.”
Parliament’s foreign affairs committee’s report criticized the United Kingdom for not being more supportive of Taiwan. The report calls for officials to collaborate with other countries to develop sanctions that could be used to deter China from pursuing military action against Taiwan and blockading Taiwan’s economy.
“The U.K. could pursue closer relations with Taiwan if it were not over-cautious about offending the [Chinese Communist Party],” the committee stated. “The U.K. should loosen self-imposed restrictions on who can interact with Taiwanese officials. The U.S. and Japan have shown that communication is possible even at the highest level.”