Statement concerning the deterioration of human rights and religious freedom in China

As the Co-Chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, we have for many years supported Taiwan’s remarkable achievements in human rights, democracy and the rule of law. A beacon for freedom and democracy in Asia, Taiwan enjoys freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, political participation, the rule of law as well as same-sex marriage, and serves as a model for China’s social reform and democratic development.

However, we are alarmed by the rapid and significant deterioration of human rights, political reform, freedom of religion and expression in China. The Chinese authorities have tightened control over citizens by imprisoning millions of Uighurs in labour camps, suppressing religious groups including Muslims, Catholics and Falung Gong followers, and detaining dissidents such as prominent human rights lawyers and religious figures. Hong Kong, where over a million people have recently taken to the streets to protest against the proposed extradition bill, serves as another warning of China’s constant attempt to interfere and suppress freedom and democracy.

China’s aggressive actions toward other countries internationally and increasing repression of its own people domestically pose a serious threat not only to Taiwan and its Asian neighbours, but also other democracies around the world. We believe that now more than ever, it is imperative for the UK and other likeminded countries to take actions to uphold the democratic values and ideals we share and cherish.

Rogan
Lord Rogan   

         

Question / Taiwan: World Health Assembly

Q Asked by Lord Blencathra
Asked on: 14 May 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: World Health Assembly / HL15706

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the World Health Organisation about Taiwan being excluded from the World Health Assembly; and what plans they have to provide Taiwan, in its absence, with information from that Assembly.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Answered on: 22 May 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of Health officials have made a number of senior-level representations with like-minded partners about Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly and technical meetings of the World Health Organisation. The UK supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations where statehood is not a prerequisite and where Taiwan can make a valuable contribution, such as global health. In line with our longstanding unofficial relationship, we have a wide range of exchanges with Taiwan, including on global health issues.

Question / China: Taiwan

Q Asked by Andrew Rosindell (Romford)
Asked on: 09 May 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China: Taiwan / 252583

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what diplomatic steps he is taking to improve relations between China and Taiwan.

A Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 16 May 2019

We have a constructive and positive dialogue with China on major global issues, which enables us to have an open and frank discussion on difficult issues. We are clear in our discussions with China that our longstanding policy on Taiwan has not changed: we consider the Taiwan issue one that should be settled by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait through constructive dialogue. We have made clear our concern at any activity by China and Taiwan that risks destabilising the status quo.

Co-Chairs’ statement on Chinese fighter jets crossing median line of the Taiwan Strait

On 31 March, two Chinese J-11 fighter jets of the People Liberation Army Air Force intentionally crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait south-west of Penghu, intruding upon a maritime boundary that has been abided by both sides for many years, and as a result damaging the cross-strait status quo. As co-chairs of the British-Taiwanese All Party Parliamentary Group, we are seriously concerned about the rise of tension in cross-strait relations. It is evident that regional peace and stability is at stake.

We believe that prosperity and stability across the Taiwan Strait is hugely important to the East Asian region and the world as a whole, and we must stress that maintaining peace in the region is in the common interest of all parties concerned. Any unilateral attempts to disrupt the status quo are harmful and do not contribute to cross-strait stability. Restraint is essential for good relations, and we will continue to support all efforts to defend the cross-strait status quo.

evans    Rogan
Nigel Evans MP                             Lord Rogan   

         

Question / Taiwan: World Health Organisation

Q Asked by Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
Asked on: 02 April 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: World Health Organisation / 239932

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations his Department has made to the World Health Organisation on (a) Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly as an observer this year and (b) Taiwan’s participation in technical meetings of the World Health Organisation.

A Answered by: Mark Field
Answered on: 10 April 2019

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Health in lobbying for Taiwan’s participation in World Health Organisation (WHO) meetings. Her Majesty’s Government is working with likeminded countries to lobby the WHO at official level to issue an invitation to Taiwan to observe the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May. The UK continues to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations where statehood is not a prerequisite and where Taiwan can make a valuable contribution. The UK believes the WHA and the related technical meetings of the WHO meet these criteria.

 

Question / World Health Assembly: Taiwan

Q Asked by Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
Asked on: 28 March 2019

Department of Health and Social Care
World Health Assembly: Taiwan / 238323

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to support Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly as an observer; and whether his Department has encouraged Taiwan to participate in technical meetings of the World Health Organisation.

A Answered by: Jackie Doyle-Price
Answered on: 05 April 2019

The Department continues to support the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on this topic. The Government is working with likeminded countries to lobby the World Health Organization (WHO) at official level to issue an invitation to Taiwan to observe the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May.

The United Kingdom continues to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations where statehood is not a prerequisite and where Taiwan can make a valuable contribution. The UK believes the WHA and related technical meetings of the WHO meet these criteria.

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