China tells Britain to stop efforts to ‘enhance’ ties with Taiwan

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government on Thursday told Britain to stop its efforts to “enhance” ties with Taiwan after a high level meeting in London and the signing of a new trade agreement between the island and Britain.

Taiwan and Britain, which like most countries has no formal ties with the Chinese-claimed island, on Wednesday signed a new Enhanced Trade Partnership and British Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston hosted Taiwan Deputy Economy Minister Chen Chern-Chyi for talks in London.

China’s embassy in London said in a statement that Beijing has always firmly opposed any form of official contact between countries that have diplomatic relations with China and “China’s Taiwan region”.

“We urge the UK to abide by the one-China principle and stop using trade cooperation as an excuse to engage in official exchanges or enhance substantive relations with Taiwan,” it added.

Britain and Taiwan both maintain de facto embassies in each other’s capitals, but London does not officially recognise the democratically elected government in Taipei.

Taiwan views Britain as an important democratic partner, noting its concern over stepped-up Chinese military activities near the island and its support for Taiwan’s participation in global bodies such as the World Health Organization.

Britain approved a sharp increase in exports of submarine parts and technology last year to Taiwan as it upgrades its naval forces, Reuters reported in March.

Because of its diplomatic isolation and pressure from China, chip powerhouse Taiwan has few formal foreign trade agreements, though it is a member of the World Trade Organization and has free trade agreements with Singapore and New Zealand.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sam Holmes)