Co-Chairs & UK parliamentarians’ letter to IELTS urging the correction of Taiwan’s designation

28 January 2019

The IELTS Global Partnership
British Council
10 Spring Gardens
London SW1A 2BN

Dear IELTS Global Partnership,

We are writing to you regarding your recent decision in October to change the designation of Taiwan on your website from ‘Taiwan’ to ‘Taiwan, China’. We are surprised to learn of your decision, as the designation ‘Taiwan, China’ is not only erroneous but also contrary to UK Government policy, and therefore request immediate correction to ‘Taiwan’.

Your changed designation is inaccurate and misleading as Taiwan has never been a part of the People’s Republic of China. It is also contrary to the UK Government’s longstanding policy to refer to Taiwan as simply ‘Taiwan’, as Mark Field, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign Commonwealth Office, publicly stated on 10 July. The reason for your decision therefore remains puzzling, as it is neither based on fact nor is it in line with the UK’s official position.

The change has resulted in great confusion and protest among Taiwanese people and the IELTS community. Many Taiwanese students and professionals who take the IELTS feel their rights and nationality are being sacrificed.

The decision follows pressure from China and is based on commercial interest. Although IELTS is a private enterprise, it should not have the terms of its business dictated by a foreign government. Succumbing to this political pressure undermines our democratic principles and harms the free operations of international business.

UK-Taiwanese educational relations are steadily increasing, with approximately 12,000 Taiwanese studying in the UK as of 2017. For many Taiwanese students and professionals, taking the IELTS is an essential stepping stone to study and work in the UK. If IELTS were to change the designation to ‘Taiwan’, it may well allow the UK to continue increasing its educational exchanges with Taiwan.

We urge you to reconsider your decision and amend the IELTS website to the previous and proper designation of simply ‘Taiwan’.

Yours sincerely,

evans    Rogan
Nigel Evans MP                             Lord Rogan                                                               

Co-Chairs of British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group

Co-Signatories:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom
Baroness Barker
Lord Bethell
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
Lord Dholakia
Baroness D’Souza
Lord Foster of Bath
Baroness Garden of Frognal
Lord Gilbert of Panteg
Baroness Harris of Richmond
Lord Kilclooney
Baroness Ludford
Lord Northbrook
Baroness Northover
Lord Purvis of Tweed
Lord Rennard
Lord Steel of Aikwood
Lord Truscott

Sir David Amess MP
Bob Blackman MP
Sir Graham Brady MP
Sarah Champion MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Nigel Dodds MP
Mike Gapes MP
Robert Halfon MP
Stephen Hepburn MP
Philip Hollobone MP
George Howarth MP
Andrea Jenkyns MP
Ian Lucas MP
Angus MacNeil MP
Scott Mann MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Stephen Metcalfe MP
Nigel Mills MP
Stephen Morgan MP
Sheryll Murray MP
Bob Neill MP
Andrew Rosindell MP
Henry Smith MP
Bob Stewart MP
Sir Demond Swayne MP
Stephen Timms MP

C.c.
1. Rt Hon Mark Field MP, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
2. Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council

 

Question / China: Taiwan

Q Asked by Lord Dholakia
Asked on: 14 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China: Taiwan / HL12785

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of the People’s Republic of China about their “one country, two systems” policy towards Taiwan.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Answered on: 23 January 2019

The British Government has routine discussions with the People’s Republic of China on the issue of Taiwan, such as during the Foreign Secretary’s UK-China Strategic Dialogue (July 2018). We maintain that the issue should be settled through constructive dialogue, in line with the views of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Question / China: Taiwan

Q Asked by Lord Dholakia
Asked on: 14 January 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China: Taiwan / HL12786

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of any risks to regional peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Answered on: 23 January 2019

In his 2 January speech, Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged Taiwan to accept reunification with China, restating China’s long-held position that it can use all necessary measures, including force, to secure this aim. We oppose any action which raises tensions in the region and hinders the chances of peaceful settlement of any issues. In line with our longstanding position on Taiwan we encourage Taiwan and China to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve this issue, taking into account the views of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Lord Rennard’s Letter to the Times

Member of British-Taiwanese APPG Lord Rennard’s letter to the Times in response to their editorial:

Sir,

China’s behaviour towards Taiwan (Bully in Beijing, Times 3rd January 2019) highlights a major threat to principles of self-determination, democracy and human rights that should be resisted firmly by all countries governed by those values.

China’s treatment of Tibet, the massacre in Tianneman Square, and its refusal to uphold principles of the Basic Law that was supposed to allow Hong Kong a different system to that of the authoritarian Chinese, all serve to show why Taiwan’s 23 million citizens are right to be more than wary of an enforced ‘re-unification’. China’s behaviour is a threat to peace.

In contrast, Taiwan has provided a model as to how a dictatorship can peacefully progress to a multi-party democracy with rival parties respecting the outcome of elections determined by the will of the people.

China’s efforts to win friends and influence would be better served by respecting human rights and principles such as freedom of speech at home and abroad.

Yours etc.
Lord Rennard
Liberal Democrat
House of Lords,
London SW1A 0PW

Co-Chairs’ Joint Statement on President Tsai’s Speech on 2 January

As the co-chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, we wholly support Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s firm position to bolster Taiwan as a fully-fledged democracy which shares understanding on universal values such as freedom, respect for human rights, and the rule of law with the UK and countries around the world. We also understand that the vast majority of people in Taiwan form a consensus that resolutely opposes “one country, two systems”.

We regard any threat or intimidation in the Taiwan Strait as irresponsible, and want to ensure that action taken in the Taiwan Strait does not threaten cross-strait relations and status quo. Maintaining prosperity and stability in the East Asian region is in the common interest of all parties concerned, we therefore wish to see China and Taiwan cooperate fully on areas of common interest, while respecting the firm commitment of Taiwan’s 23 million people to freedom and democracy.

In the future, we look forward to China and Taiwan working together to ensure respect on both sides, particularly in the ability for both countries to have their voices heard in international fora such as the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Therefore, we call on China and Taiwan to restore dialogue and consultations with each other on the basis of mutual respect in order to ensure regional peace and stability.

evans    Rogan
Nigel Evans MP                             Lord Rogan                                                               

Posted on 11 January 2019 at 9.22 am

Question / Renewable Energy: Taiwan

Q Asked by Mr George Howarth (Knowsley)
Asked on: 21 November 2018

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Renewable Energy: Taiwan / 194065

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to co-operate with Taiwan on renewable energy; and whether his Department plans actively to engage with Taiwan’s delegation at the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2018.

A Answered by: Claire Perry
Answered on: 29 November 2018

Cooperation on renewable energy forms part of the UK’s commercial and economic ties with Taiwan. In 2017 we agreed to initiate an official-level dialogue on energy as a component of the annual Trade Talks. The first meeting took place in June 2018 in London between officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for International Trade, and a delegation led by Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy. The dialogue focussed on renewable energy, particularly offshore wind, grid stability and smart energy systems. Both sides agreed that there was value in further dialogue and opportunities for businesses to work together on renewable energy.

Broader energy and climate change cooperation between the UK and Taiwan is part of our economic and commercial relationship. We expect this engagement to continue in the margins of the 24th Conference of the Parties under the UNFCCC next month, though no formal plans have yet been made. Broad cooperation is vital for tackling this global issue.

Question / Taiwan: Climate Change

Q Asked by Scott Mann (North Cornwall)
Asked on: 19 November 2018

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: Climate Change / 192926

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department recognises Taiwan’s efforts and contribution on combating climate change; and if his Department will support Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which will take place in Poland in December 2018.

A Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 27 November 2018

The British Government welcomes the contribution Taiwan voluntarily makes in combating climate change, despite not being a signatory to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and we continue to work closely with Taiwan on this matter. The British Government has also consistently stated its support for Taiwan’s participation in international organisations where we believe Taiwan has a valuable contribution to make on issues of global concern. This includes the issue of climate change, which does not recognise the concept of territorial boundaries. Taiwan is sending a delegation to Katowice.