Ex-U.K. Conservative Party leader calls on free world to support Taiwan

09/26/2021 07:14 PM
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Sir Iain Duncan Smith. Image captured during an interview with CNA
Sir Iain Duncan Smith. Image captured during an interview with CNA

London, Sept. 26 (CNA) Senior United Kingdom parliamentarian and former leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smith has called on the free world to "categorically" support Taiwan and Lithuania in response to China's bullying.

In a recent interview with CNA, the politician who headed the Conservative Party from 2001-2003 said the campaign launched by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) he initiated calls on the world to support Taiwan and Lithuania as both have been subject to intimidation from Beijing.

"Should the free world support them? Yes, categorically," he said.

"We need to be able to make it clear to China one way or the other that China cannot act unilaterally over Taiwan, and that the overflying of their military jets and the threats, the posturing, the undiplomatic language, is appalling," said Duncan Smith.

Many governments around the globe have chosen to ignore Beijing's aggressive behavior targeting Taiwan and those who support Taiwan on the world stage, he said, adding that such problems need to be dealt with.

The veteran politician said he implores the Chinese government to "take a step back from it's appalling behavior," to cooperate and obey the rules that exist in the international order, and to value other important things such as human rights and freedom of expression.

Established on June 4, 2020, IPAC is an international cross-party coalition of over 200 parliamentarians from the world's democratic legislatures who are focused on creating a coordinated response to stand up to China on global security, human rights and trade issues.

Duncan Smith is the co-chair of the alliance in the U.K. with Labour peer Helena Kennedy.

Duncan Smith made the comments as Lithuania faces increased pressure from Beijing following its decision to open reciprocal representative offices with Taiwan and allow Taipei's office in Vilnius to bear the word "Taiwanese" in its name.

The office's name differs from that used by Taiwan's other foreign missions in countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations.

Taiwan typically uses "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office" or "Taipei Representative Office" in those countries, likely due to the host countries' preference to avoid any semblance of treating Taiwan as a separate country in light of their one-China policy.

In response, Beijing, which asserts that there is only "one China" and that Taiwan is part of it, has sought to impose a political cost on Lithuania for its decision.

In addition to recalling its ambassador from Vilnius and expelling Lithuania's from Beijing, China has introduced retaliatory sanctions, including the halting of direct freight train services to the Baltic state.

Due to his critical stance against Beijing, Duncan Smith was named as one of five parliamentarians sanctioned by the Chinese government for spreading what it called "lies and disinformation" about the country and has since been banned from entering China.

His name caught the attention of Taiwan's media earlier this month after he pressed U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a House of Commons session on whether he could offer assurances to the people of Taiwan, in the face of a propaganda campaign launched by Beijing that aims to sow doubt about the United States security commitment to Taiwan after American-led coalition forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August.

He asked the prime minister to reassure "the Taiwanese and others" of Britain's support for their "right to democracy" and "self-determination."

In response, Johnson said he was aware of the issues between China and Taiwan and had recently discussed them with U.S. President Joe Biden.

"The only way forward is to continue to support the American global leadership, and that is what we will do," he said.

Duncan Smith told CNA that he asked Johnson the question to understand the British government's position with regards to Taiwan, and what the British government would do should China launch a military attack.

Unfortunately, the prime minister did not directly answer the question nor elaborate on what he meant by continuing to support the U.S. in the matter, the MP said.

However, he noted the reality that is dawning on everyone now is that China, one of the world's largest economies with its increasing military buildup, has made public its ambitions to take back Taiwan, by any means, including force.

It is also very clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will not modify his ambitions for China, he said.

That is a reality that the U.K, U.S. and other democracies have to deal with as the result of Beijing's ambition, as that will bring it into direct clash with allies in the Indo-Pacific region, he added.

(By Chen Yun-yu and Joseph Yeh)

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