U.K., New Zealand affirm importance of maintaining stability in Taiwan Strait

07/02/2022 02:00 PM
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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo taken from twitter.com/10DowningStreet
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo taken from twitter.com/10DowningStreet

London, July 1 (CNA) The United Kingdom and New Zealand are committed to a stable Indo-Pacific and emphasize the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the prime ministers of the two countries said in a joint statement on Friday.

The U.K. and New Zealand "underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues via dialogue," according to the statement issued after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern convened in London to discuss strengthening collaborations between the two countries.

The two prime ministers also expressed their commitment to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region while voicing support for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and beyond, in accordance with the United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea.

They pledged to step up efforts to "support an international system that is based on the rule of law, free from illegal and unilateral aggression, and economic coercion, where human rights are upheld and the freedom and sovereignty of all countries are protected regardless of their size."

The two officials went on to express "grave concerns" over "the erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong" as the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities marked the 25th anniversary of the handover of the former British colony to Beijing on Friday.

Arden traveled to the U.K. after wrapping up her visit to Europe, where she also addressed the NATO summit, which was held June 28-30 in Spain, on Thursday, expressing concern that China has recently become "more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms."

"We must stand firm on the rules-based order, call for diplomatic engagement and speak out against human rights abuses at all times when and where we see them," the prime minister added.

Similarly, U.K. Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss, during her remarks at the NATO summit on Wednesday, underscored the need for "the free world [to] work together to help ensure that Taiwan is able to defend itself."

"I do think that with China extending its influence through economic coercion and building a capable military there is a real risk that they draw the wrong idea which results in a catastrophic miscalculation such as invading Taiwan," Truss noted.

In response, Zhao Lijian (趙立堅), a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criticized Truss for her "irresponsible comments" during a press briefing on Thursday, adding that the Chinese government had lodged a protest against its British counterpart over the matter.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Teng Pei-ju)

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