Truss risks infuriating Xi over Taiwan speech after Pelosi backlash
Liz Truss says the UK has been ‘too soft’ on China in 2021
Former Prime Minister Liz Truss will deliver a keynote speech in Taiwan next week, as well as meet with senior members of their Government, as part of her ongoing campaign for the West to toughen its stance against Communist China. The visit risks diplomatic outrage from Beijing, however, who previously warned the UK Government against sending ministers to the country.
Ms Truss will continue her series of interventions against China, following a speech in Tokyo this February and Washington DC last month.
The former premier will pronounce Taiwan as a “beacon of freedom and democracy”, amid “increasingly aggressive behaviour and rhetoric from the regime in Beijing.”
Ms Truss’s spokesman said the speech will demonstrate “solidarity” with the island, which China has vowed to retake – by force if necessary – by 2050.
The speech will come two days after she speaks at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, where she will renew calls for an “economic NATO” to counteract the economic strength of totalitarian regimes.
Ms Truss’s “economic NATO” plan would allow free-market Western countries to agree trade and investment decisions in a way that would promote freedom.
While Ms Truss’s intervention will be supported by China hawks, who warn that the Government must take a much tougher stance towards the Communist country, it could risk increased diplomatic tensions.
In November last year, the Chinese Government criticised a visit by then-trade minister Greg Hands, saying their country “resolutely opposes” official exchanges between Taipei and UK.
They added that the UK must cease “sending the wrong signals” to pro-independence forces on the island, which Beijing regards as its own territory.
In August last year, Mrs Pelosi became the first US House Speaker to travel to the island in 25 years.
Mrs Pelosi’s trip sparked a diplomatic incident, with China launching live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, blocking Taiwanese imports and summoning the US ambassador.
Ms Truss, however, believes it would be wrong to be swayed either by the Chinese Communist Party or the Foreign Office.
At the time, Professor Michael Clarke, a defence analyst, told Sky News: “China punishes any country or company who engages with or even talks about Taiwan”.
“It’s their most sensitive topic, because the Chinese just go berserk about it, it’s like a button you can press to make them angry.”
Liz Truss made opposition to the threat of China a key plank of her 2022 Summer Tory Leadership campaign, warning the UK had been too soft on the Communist regime.
“I’m very clear, after the appalling abuses in Xinjiang, after the terrible actions in Hong Kong, and the most recent outrage which is China working with Russia and essentially backing them in the appalling war in Ukraine, we have to take a tougher stance.”
“We have to learn from the mistakes we made of Europe becoming dependent on Russian oil and gas, we cannot allow that to happen with China and freedom is a price worth paying”.
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Ms Truss and Rishi Sunak clashed over China, with then-Foreign Secretary accusing Mr Sunak of cosying up to Beijing and getting the effective endorsement of the CCP’s state media outfit The Global Times.
Mr Sunak also spoke tough on China during last year’s Tory leadership race, accusing them of “stealing our technology and infiltrating our universities”, while “propping up Putin’s fascist invasion of Ukraine” as well as bullying Taiwan and contravening human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
Last night Sir Iain Duncan Smith criticised Rishi Sunak over a “shameful” decision to Investment Minister Lord Johnson to Hong Kong, despite the democracy crackdown in the former British colony.
Sir Iain said the visit was part of “project kowtow”, and said it “seems astonishing to me that a government minister is visiting Hong Kong after the Chinese trashed the Sino-British Agreement.”
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