Taiwan APPG expresses condolences at passing of Taiwan’s former President Lee Teng-hui

Please read our letter of condolence for the sad passing of Taiwan’s former President Lee Teng-hui, signed by Co-Chairs Lord Rogan and Martin Vickers MP

 

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31 July 2020

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Dr LEE, Teng-Hui, former President of Taiwan, on 30 July 2020 in Taipei. We, as Co-Chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, would like to express our most sincere condolences and sympathy on behalf of our parliamentary colleagues, to the government and people of Taiwan.

Late President Lee made important contributions to Taiwan’s vibrant democracy, freedom of speech, and protection of human rights, which are the shared values between Taiwan and the UK today. His passing is truly a great loss to Taiwan and beyond.


Lord Rogan
, Co-Chair       Martin Vickers MP, Co-Chair

Question / Taiwan

14 July 2020
Volume 804

Question
12.06 pm

Asked by

Baroness D’Souza
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what (1) diplomatic, and (2) practical, assistance they are providing to the government of Taiwan; and what plans they have to formally recognise Taiwan as an independent sovereign state.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
My Lords, the United Kingdom’s long-standing policy on Taiwan has not changed. We have no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but a strong unofficial relationship based on dynamic commercial, educational and cultural ties. We regularly lobby in favour of Taiwan’s participation in international organisations where statehood is not a prerequisite, and we make clear our concerns about any activity that risks destabilising the cross-strait status quo. We have no plans to recognise Taiwan as a state.

Baroness D’Souza (CB) [V]
I thank the Minister for his sympathetic response. President Xi has made it clear that “one country, two systems” is the plan for Taiwan, and the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2021 has been mentioned as a possible deadline. Will the Government consider taking small but significant steps and work with other like-minded nations less susceptible to Chinese influence to clarify and entrench Taiwan’s de facto independence? Such steps might specifically include inviting Taiwan as a guest to G7 meetings, lobbying for membership of the OECD as well as of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and considering Cabinet-level ministerial visits to Taiwan.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, while noting what the noble Baroness said, I assure her that we continue to work with like-minded partners, particularly on participation for Taiwan in those organisations where statehood is not a prerequisite. Those include the World Health Organization. We also believe that Taiwan has an important role to play in the spheres of education and climate change.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Con)
My Lords, Taiwan has been preparing for a pandemic since the SARS epidemic in 2003. As a result, it has been able to tackle the terrible ravages of Covid-19 with great success. But at the World Health Assembly in May, the attendees, including us, were unable to learn about the methods of its success because Taiwan’s attendance as an observer was blocked by China. Will my noble friend please assure me that the diplomatic efforts of the UK will be used to try to prevent such a blocking from happening in the future?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, I share my noble friend’s disappointment and concern. As I have already said, we believe that Taiwan has an important role to play, particularly in how it has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, we continue to lobby for its participation in meetings such as those convened by the World Health Organization.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
My Lords, can we raise the case of Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist arrested in China and given a five-year prison sentence for posts on social media calling for democratic reforms? His wife, whom I have met, says that he is literally forced to eat rotten food and is denied prison visits. Following the imposition of the new security law in Hong Kong, what does this case say about the future of pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, and in mainland China?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for bringing this case to my attention. I assure him that we are monitoring it through our embassy in Beijing. While we have not raised it with Chinese counterparts, we regularly make known our concerns about the increasing restrictions on civil and political rights and freedom of expression in China. We do the same in Hong Kong.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab) [V]
My Lords, I remind the House of my interest as the Government’s trade envoy to Taiwan. Will the Minister celebrate with me the 30% increase in trade between Britain and Taiwan over the past three years, and congratulate President Tsai Ing-wen and her Government on not just their triumphant re-election earlier this year in a fair and free contest but on their management of the Covid-19 crisis—that was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay; there have been 447 cases and just seven deaths out of a population of 23.8 million—and their generosity in donating 2 million face masks to the UK? I hope that the Minister will continue to do all he can to ensure that Taiwan is admitted to the WHO so that the whole world can learn from its success and share its expertise.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, I share the noble Lord’s view of the positive elements of the relationship with Taiwan. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary congratulated President Tsai on her victory.

Baroness Northover (LD)
My Lords, when the national security law was imposed on Hong Kong, 53 countries supported China on it at the UN Human Rights Council. Only 27 countries, including only half of EU states and no state in Asia, Africa or South America, supported us. Now that we have left the EU, how are we building a strong alliance to defend Taiwan against any aggression?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, the noble Baroness is right to raise this concern. I agree with her figures. As Human Rights Minister, I worked on that proposal. There is much more work to be done but I assure her that we work very closely with European partners, particularly on Hong Kong, and share common interests when it comes to Taiwan.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab) [V]
My Lords, as has already been stated, there was hope that perhaps “one country, two systems” might have been a way of unlocking the Taiwanese issue which has been a problem for so many years. Recent events in Hong Kong show that that was a chimera. We have real problems now with the way China is behaving towards Hong Kong. Chinese behaviour and the statement by Xi Jinping, possibly encouraged by the world’s focus on the Wuhan virus, must be confronted. Does the Minister agree that Taiwan must be shielded and that one way of doing that is its recognition by as many of the G20 as possible? That would send a very strong message to Xi Jinping that the way he is behaving is not helping anyone, least of all China.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, the Government’s position remains that the issue of Taiwan is to be settled by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. As I said already, we continue to lobby for Taiwan’s participation in key organisations where it has a pivotal role to play.

Lord Bowness (Con) [V]
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for the answers he has given, which suggest that we are very well disposed towards Taiwan. However, that is only one element. In the UK, we have seen the City of London withdraw its invitation to Taiwan to participate in the Lord Mayor’s Show and British Airways rewrite its destination listings so that Taiwan and, indeed, Hong Kong, are listed under China. Does my noble friend agree that we should be giving organisations such as the City and British Airways every support to resist this pressure from China, which is quite improper?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, individual companies and organisations will make their own decisions. The United Kingdom continues to acknowledge Taiwan. Whenever we categorise Taiwan we do so under the designation of country or region, and we will continue to do so. Individual companies will make their own decisions.

Lord Kilclooney (CB)
My Lords, as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taiwan and having visited Taiwan on many occasions, I find it a nation which is a great stable democracy. Can the Government of the United Kingdom now consider improving high-level exchanges with Taiwan? For example, are the President of Taiwan, the Vice-President and the Foreign Minister banned from coming to the United Kingdom because of their political positions or are they banned as individuals?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, I have already said that we continue to engage with Taiwan. The most recent visit was by a Trade Minister, so we engage with Taiwan at ministerial level.

Lord Wood of Anfield (Lab) [V]
My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether it is the Government’s policy to achieve a bilateral trade deal between the UK and Taiwan, as urged by the Foundation for Independence, a think tank very close to senior figures in this Government?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, we continue to work on important common themes with Taiwan, and trade is one of them. Obviously my colleagues at the Department for International Trade will continue to see how we can further strengthen our ties with Taiwan.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Lexden) (Con)
My Lords, the time allowed for this Question has now elapsed.

Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Taiwan Lord Richard Faulkner and Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands talked with Taiwan Economy Minister via video call

Downing Street Trade Envoy to Taiwan Lord Richard Faulkner and Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands MP engaged with Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua in a three-way video call.

Greg Hands MP thanked Minister Wang Mei-hua for Taiwan’s PPE donation to the UK during the call, where the matters of British lamb, renewable energy and the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) were also discussed.

Question / Taiwan: Interpol

Q Asked by Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
Asked on: 12 May 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: Interpol / 46032

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make it his policy to support the (a) granting of observer status to Taiwan at the 89th INTERPOL General Assembly and (b) attendance of Taiwan in that organisation’s (i) meetings, (ii) mechanisms and (iii) activities.

A Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 22 May 2020

The UK’s longstanding policy on Taiwan and international organisations has not changed. The British Government continues to hold the view that the people of Taiwan have a meaningful contribution to make towards global issues such as combatting organised crime. We therefore support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations, such as INTERPOL, where there is precedent for their involvement, where they can contribute to the global good and where there is no pre-requisite of nationhood for participation. The UK has not made any representations on Taiwan’s observer status at INTERPOL this year but will work with international partners on this issue.

 

Question / Taiwan: Interpol

Q Asked by Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
Asked on: 12 May 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: Interpol / 46033

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to member states of INTERPOL to (a) grant observer status to Taiwan at the 89th General Assembly of INTERPOL, and (b) enable Taiwan to have access to that organisation’s I-24/7 Global Police Communications System and key training programmes.

A Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 22 May 2020

The UK’s longstanding policy on Taiwan and international organisations has not changed. The British Government continues to hold the view that the people of Taiwan have a meaningful contribution to make towards global issues such as combatting organised crime. We therefore support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations, such as INTERPOL, where there is precedent for their involvement, where they can contribute to the global good and where there is no pre-requisite of nationhood for participation. The UK has not made any representations on Taiwan’s observer status at INTERPOL this year but will work with international partners on this issue.

 

Martin Vickers MP: Why Taiwan’s success has become a problem for WHO

Please read our Co-Chair Martin Vickers MP’s article published on “Comment Central“.

Taiwan first notified the WHO of Covid-19 on 31 December 2019, but regrettably the WHO chose to respond by publicly dismissing these concerns. Instead the WHO has chosen to accept, with no scrutiny or criticism, the word of the Chinese government, argues Martin Vickers MP

As the coronavirus gripped the world, closing all but essential services, separating citizens from their loved ones and changing our way of life in a way few would have previously imagined, one shining light defied the new world order. To date, Taiwan has contained the outbreak to just 428 confirmed cases and six deaths. As such, the Taiwanese people are largely able to carry on with their lives as normal. This is even more amazing if you consider the country’s links, through trade, economic activity and geography, with China.

Learning from the SARS outbreak in 2003, Taiwan knew that swift action was the key. Long before COVID-19 was a matter of public consciousness in the western world, Taiwan was putting in place measures to protect itself and its citizens. The screening of Chinese citizens entering the country began immediately followed by a complete border closure to anyone who had been in China as the situation developed. For its citizens, strict quarantine measures were introduced, production and distribution of PPE was ramped up and every effort to trace the flow of contact was made.

Taiwan benefits from a world-leading healthcare system. Just as in the United Kingdom, coverage is universal, but rather than being entirely taxpayer funded, the system revolves around a national health insurance plan, run by the government, covering everybody. The system has endured for 25 years and has public support over 80 percent. About 1 percent of its funding is spent on administration, compared to the NHS which spends £8 billion of its £100 billion budget. As the earliest signs of coronavirus began to emerge, officials at Taiwan’s National Health Command Centre began taking action to respond to the potential threat.

Sadly, the efforts being made were not fully appreciated at the time. Taiwan first notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the virus on 31 December 2019, specifically in relation to its concern regarding for potential for human-to-human transmission. But, regrettably, Taiwan are not members of the WHO and they chose to respond by publicly dismissing these concerns. Instead the WHO has chosen to accept, with no scrutiny or criticism, the word of the Chinese government.

Despite this, Taiwan is now outperforming the rest of the world and this will only advantage them more in the long run. It has been estimated that the economic cost of a one-month lockdown is a 3 percent contraction of full year GDP. Whilst the rest of the world is going to have to take tough economic decisions to bring their finances back on track after the pandemic passes, Taiwan will find itself in a very fortunate position.

This small but determined country has now refocussed its efforts to helping the rest of the world deal with the crisis. They are currently distributing 10 million facemasks globally, with a delivery arriving in London last week for use by the brave medical staff providing frontline care through the National Health Service.

Clearly, the middle of a global pandemic is not an appropriate time for an inquiry. However, once the worst is over and the world has returned to something resembling normality it will be imperative that answers are given to some of the burning questions that, arguably, should have been asked a long time ago. It is disappointing that it took such an extreme event to raise these questions but now they are being asked, it is essential that the opportunity to resolve them is not missed.

Taiwan is now a model. Economists around the world are studying the country’s handling of the greatest pandemic of a generation in order to determine how to avoid similar events happening in future. The WHO must acknowledge the legitimate and independent place of Taiwan in dealing with international health matters.

Video messages thanking Taiwan for donating masks to the UK

Please watch our Co-Chairs Lord Rogan, Martin Vickers MP and President Nigel Evans MP’s video messages thanking Taiwan for donating one million masks to the UK.

Lord Rogan, Co-Chair

Martin Vickers MP, Co-Chair

Nigel Evans MP, President

 

Question / Taiwan: Coronavirus

Q Asked by John Spellar (Warley)
Asked on: 22 April 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: Coronavirus / 38872

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions his Department has had with the Taiwanese authorities on lessons learned from their handling of the covid-19 pandemic.

A Answered by: Nigel Adams
Answered on: 30 April 2020

Through our office in Taipei, the British Government has been in regular contact with the Taiwanese health authorities around all aspects of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. We will continue to learn from and share good practice with Taiwan, as we aim to do with all those who have been affected by this pandemic. In line with our longstanding policy, we believe Taiwan has a meaningful role to play in combatting global threats like COVID-19.