Debate / Taiwan

10 February 2020
Volume 801

14:52:00

Asked by

Baroness Falkner of Margravine
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy towards Taiwan, and in particular on (1) security, and (2) international engagement issues.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
My Lords, the United Kingdom’s long-standing policy on Taiwan is unchanged. The UK and Taiwan have a strong but unofficial relationship based on dynamic commercial, educational and cultural ties. We support Taiwan’s participation in international organisations where statehood is not a prerequisite, and Taiwan can make a valuable contribution. On security, we are concerned by any activity that risks destabilising the status quo. Issues should be settled between people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (Non-Afl)
I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware of fresh Chinese attempts at economic coercion against Taiwan since the re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen last month, including attempts at the United Nations to stop parliamentarians engaging with her Government? Does he agree that when China presents its “one country, two systems” policy to Taiwan alongside military threats, along with the tangible example of Hong Kong, that is more likely to convince the Taiwanese to be rather sceptical of Chinese assurances as to their future?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
On the structure and the relationship with Taiwan, as I said in my original Answer, it remains the Government’s view that it is very much for those on both sides of the Taiwan Strait—representatives in Taiwan and China—to determine the best way forward in the interests of the people of Taiwan. As for the noble Baroness’s broader question on the United Nations, as I have said, for organisations such as ICAO and the World Health Organization, our view is that being a state is not a prerequisite to membership. We remain very clear, with our like-minded partners, that Taiwan’s contribution to those organisations is important and that it has a vital role to play.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)
My Lords, I declare my interest as the Government’s trade envoy to Taiwan; the Minister will know that this constrains me a little in what I can say in the Chamber. Will the Minister take back to his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary the very great satisfaction among the friends of Taiwan at the statement made by Mr Raab after the legislative and presidential election? He offered warm congratulations to the people of Taiwan on the smooth conduct of those elections, and to Dr Tsai Ing-wen and her party on her re-election.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, I will of course be pleased to take back those comments to my right honourable friend. It is important that we recognise the democratic process in Taiwan. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the noble Lord’s work on the relationship between the United Kingdom and Taiwan, specifically on trade. It is, I am sure, in part his efforts, alongside those of British companies, that have resulted in a rising level of trade. Indeed, UK exports to Taiwan grew by 40.8% last year.

Baroness Fall (Con)
Does the Minister believe that the President of the United States would feel bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act? It states that America will

“consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States”,

and will

“make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, my noble friend will appreciate that it is not for me to comment on United States policy. I can, however, reaffirm that the United Kingdom remains committed to our relationship with Taiwan. As I said in response to an earlier question, we are committed to the importance of trade and culture, and we have seen the prosperity of that: the economy of Taiwan is bigger than that of many Asian economies. It is important that we strengthen our work in this respect. On the wider point of resolving any issues between Taipei and Beijing, it is important that both sides negotiate the issues that need to be addressed. That is the best way forward.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
My Lords, I agree with the Minister: the ultimate relationship has to be determined by those two entities. However, he mentioned multilateral organisations, in particular the World Health Organization. We are currently facing a global crisis, and it is important that countries and entities such as Taiwan play their full part in it. What representations has he made to the WHO to ensure that Taiwan can play a full part in the work to ensure that the public interest and the people of the world are put first, before politics?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
I agree with the noble Lord. Indeed, in preparing for the Question, I asked how many identifiable cases of coronavirus there are in Taiwan; currently there are eight. It is important that it is part and parcel of the solution. I assure the noble Lord that we continue to support representations that the Department of Health has made directly in lobbying for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization. We are also working with like-minded countries, including the United States and Australia, to ensure that, at the World Health Assembly which takes place in May this year, Taiwan is represented.

Lord Dholakia (LD)
My Lords, Taiwan is a democracy, and yet it is being denied recognition by many Governments across the world. We now have a situation, as has been pointed out, where the World Health Organization, which prides itself on promoting inclusive health for all humanity, has excluded Taiwan from its membership and does not allow it to participate in the World Health Assembly. What are we doing with the World Health Organization to ensure that Taiwan has at least a slot in the World Health Assembly at this stage?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
I have always wanted to say this from the Dispatch Box: I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Lord Broers (CB)
My Lords, is the Minister aware of Taiwan’s importance when it comes to semiconductor technology? Taiwan leads the world in making semiconductor chips. In fact, it is said that the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning chips can be made only in Taiwan; they cannot be made even in the United States.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
The noble Lord makes a very important point. It is why the United Kingdom is very committed to growing our trading relationship with Taiwan. Currently, more than 300 UK companies are located across a variety of sectors, including the one the noble Lord mentioned.

Question / Taiwan: Elections

Q Asked by Lord Steel of Aikwood
Asked on: 15 January 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: Elections / HL476

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the outcome of the election in Taiwan; and in particular, of its impact on Hong Kong.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Answered on: 24 January 2020

The Foreign Secretary’s statement on 11 January noted that the presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan were testament to Taiwan’s vibrant democracy. He congratulated the people of Taiwan on the smooth conduct of those elections and to Dr Tsai Ing-wen and her party on her re-election. The Foreign Secretary expressed his hope that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would renew dialogue to resolve differences and build constructive relations across the Strait.

We have not yet made an assessment of the impact of the elections in Taiwan on Hong Kong.  It is clear, however, that many people in Hong Kong followed the elections with interest.

 

Question / Spain: Taiwan

Q Asked by Scott Mann (North Cornwall)
Asked on: 19 June 2019

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Spain: Taiwan / 266709

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had with his Spanish counterpart on the extradition of 94 Taiwanese citizens to China.

A Answered by: Sir Alan Duncan
Answered on: 26 June 2019

Her Majesty’s Government has not raised this issue with Spain. Spain is party to the European Convention on Human Rights and this is a matter for the Spanish courts. It would not be appropriate for us to comment.

 

Question / Overseas Trade: Taiwan

Q Asked by Lord Rogan
Asked on: 11 June 2019

Department for International Trade
Overseas Trade: Taiwan / HL16280

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Taiwan about future trade relations between the two nations when the UK leaves the EU.

A Answered by: Viscount Younger of Leckie
Answered on: 18 June 2019
Taiwan is an important trading partner for the UK. Our bilateral trade was £6.6bn in 2018, an increase of 16.4% from 2017. UK exports to Taiwan grew by 40% from £1.96bn to £2.76bn (latest [ONS] data). As we leave the EU, we are committed to strengthening our trade partnership with Taiwan, and across Asia Pacific, including through the annual UK-Taiwan Trade Talks – due to take place in London in October. The Department of International Trade’s Ministers visited Taiwan twice last year, and events like the Taipei Smart Cities Summit and Expo held in March are a crucial way to strengthen relationships in key sectors.

 

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.

Debate / Lord Mayor’s Show: Taiwan

Asked by Baroness Barker in Lords Chamber on 1 May 2019:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decision of the Lord Mayor’s Show 2019 to decline an application to participate by the representative office of the government of Taiwan.

Please read the complete debate on these websites:

 

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.

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.