U.K. MP highlights deterrence to maintain cross-strait status quo

12/02/2022 05:54 PM
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Chair of the U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Alicia Kearns (left) meets President Tsai Ing-wen (right) at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022
Chair of the U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Alicia Kearns (left) meets President Tsai Ing-wen (right) at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022

Taipei, Dec. 2 (CNA) Visiting U.K. parliamentarian Alicia Kearns underlined the importance of deterrence in safeguarding the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo at a press conference Friday, following her delegation's meetings with Taiwanese government officials over the past few days.

"It's all about deterrence and preventing" any conflict in the Taiwan Strait, said Kearns, a Conservative MP and chair of the U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

She said the delegation of U.K. parliamentarians had discussed military conflict, cyber threats, defense cooperation and a range of security issues with officials in Taiwan, with a focus on safeguarding and maintaining the cross-strait relations status quo.

The seven-member group has met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), as well as foreign affairs and national security officials since their arrival on Tuesday.

"And we talked about how we as the international community work together to prevent [conflict], and therefore the importance of deterrence diplomacy," she said, without going into detail.

"We must prevent conflict; we must ensure that Taiwan is respected, and we must safeguard its sovereignty, safeguard the strait, and safeguard all of those who live in Taiwan and wish to continue living in a democratic way," Kearns said.

"The international community must stand ready, to stand in support of democracies in the face of autocracy," she added.

President Tsai Ing-wen (center right) greets British MP Alicia Kearns when she received a parliamentarian delegation from the U.K. at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022
President Tsai Ing-wen (center right) greets British MP Alicia Kearns when she received a parliamentarian delegation from the U.K. at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022
Source: Presidential Office

The all-party House of Commons delegation led by Kearns met with Tsai earlier on Friday at the Presidential Office, during which Tsai called on democracies to "stand more united than ever in the face of authoritarian expansion."

Tsai said Taiwan attached great importance to its relations with the U.K. and that Taipei looked forward to collaborating more with London to advance bilateral relations.

The visit by the British delegation from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 came just one day after U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said during a major policy speech the so-called "golden era" of U.K.-China relations was "over," and that Beijing's systemic challenge to British values and interests was growing "more acute."

Kearns said the prime minister's remarks did not mean the U.K. would "cut off" China, but rather suggested that the country should take a more robust and pragmatic approach with Beijing.

"We will continue to trade with China ... But we also have to be resilient, and that means supply chain resilience," she said.

In this regard, Kearns said, the foreign affairs committee would welcome deeper economic trade ties between the U.K. and Taiwan, as the two have "complementary economies."

British MP Alicia Kearns speaks at a news conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022
British MP Alicia Kearns speaks at a news conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on Friday. CNA photo Dec. 2, 2022

The lawmaker told Tsai in the earlier meeting that apart from existing cooperation on offshore wind power and language education, the committee hoped to further two-way trade and investment links between Taiwan and the U.K.

At the press conference, Kearns also expressed disappointment with the Chinese embassy in London's criticism of the delegation's Taipei trip.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Chinese embassy said the U.K. parliamentarians' visit to Taiwan was "a flagrant violation of the one-China principle" and "a gross interference in China's internal affairs."

The embassy also warned that the undermining of China's interests would be met with "forceful responses."

"I would be disappointed if the Chinese ambassador has criticized us for coming here," Kearns said.

"We are open for dialogue and discussion, and we would always want to have dialogue with all partners to avoid miscalculations and to be able to make clear our own views," she added.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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