Liz Truss’s trip to Taiwan this week was a “dangerous political stunt”, the Chinese embassy in London said, as the former prime minister prepared to call Rishi Sunak to declare Beijing a “threat” to its security. UK.
He is expected to use a speech in Taipei City on Wednesday to challenge the prime minister to repeat his rhetoric during the Conservative party leadership contest last summer, when he declared China “the biggest long-term threat to Britain”. He also promised to close all 30 of the UK’s Confucius Institutes, which promote Chinese culture on higher education campuses and in some British schools.
In a pre-briefed extract of his speech to the Prospect Foundation, Truss is expected to say: “Last summer the current British prime minister described China as ‘the biggest long-term threat to Britain’ , and said that the Confucius Institutes should be closed.. He is right and we need to see policies implemented urgently.
“The joint review in the UK should be amended to clearly state that China is a threat. Confucius Institutes should be closed immediately. Instead, the service can be provided by organizations with the support of Hong Kong nationals and Taiwanese nationals coming to the UK, for free.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said Truss’ visit to Taiwan was a “dangerous political show that could do nothing but harm the UK”. A statement on the embassy’s website added: “We urge the relevant British politician to correct his wrongdoing, stop making political demonstrations on the Taiwan question and stop colluding with and supporting secessionist forces in ‘ independence of Taiwan’.”
Truss is the most senior British politician to visit the country since Margaret Thatcher in the 1990s, and comes at a time when relations between Britain and China have been more strained in decades.
The former Conservative leader is also expected to urge the west not to work with China, warning that totalitarian regimes “don’t tell the truth”.
“There are still too many in the west who are trying to cling to the idea that we can work with China on issues like climate change, as if there is nothing wrong; that there are bigger issues than China’s global dominance or the future of freedom and democracy,” he is expected to say. “But without freedom and democracy there is nothing else.”
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war that ended with the Communist party taking control of the mainland. The island has not yet become part of the People’s Republic of China but Beijing insists it must unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.
A UK government spokesman said it was in Britain’s interests to “remain engaged” with China while recognizing the challenges the country presented, adding: “We have always been clear that China remains the most major state-based threat to UK economic security.
“That’s why our joint assessment refresh sets out a new approach to tackling the challenge that China presents for the UK and the wider world.”