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BTCO head notes key position of Taiwan

BTCO head notes key position of Taiwan

The United Kingdom, like other member states of the European Union, is concerned about stability in the Taiwan Strait and will try its best to urge Taiwan and China to resolve the cross-strait dispute by peaceful means, Director General of the British Trade and Cultural Office Michael Reilly said yesterday in an interview with local media.

Reilly took up the post on December 19, succeeding Derek Marsh.

Reilly noted that Taiwan's high-tech industry accounts for a significant percentage of the world's information technology market, and cited statistics provided by the European Commission that showed 10 percent of EU's imported hi-tech products were made in Taiwan.

When asked about the state of bilateral ties between the UK and Taiwan, the official said that the British lack knowledge about Taiwan, a situation that could be improved as Taiwan's high-quality products become household brands in England.

"People in the UK know very well that Samsung is a Korean mobile phone and flat screen brand. But when people buy a Dell or HP computer, they don't think it's from Taiwan," he added.

Referring to Taiwanese brands such as Acer, Asus, and BenQ, Reilly said the British could now better associate Taiwan with these well-known companies based on the reputation and quality of the products. Reilly declined to comment on Taiwan's cross-strait policy, but said that if direct flights between Taiwan and China could be realized, the island could become a hub and benefit significantly from such a move.

When asked about his meeting yesterday morning with opposition Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Reilly said that Ma is a "charming" person who is easy to talk to. The KMT chairman is scheduled to visit London in mid-February, Reilly said.

In relation to the possibility of lifting the arms embargo imposed on China by EU in 1989, the UK envoy said that it would require unanimous approval from EU member states before the arms embargo could be lifted and even then, the E.U. would impose a very strict code regarding all weapon sales to China.

Reilly noted that the links between Taiwan and the UK have intensified over the past 10 to 15 years in many aspects, including education, tourism, and business. The number of Taiwanese students studying in the UK increased from 49 in 1988 to 9,200 in 2004, he said. There are currently 160 Taiwanese investors operating throughout the UK and contributing to the growing bilateral trade, which reached US$5 billion last year, he added.

Meanwhile, there are over 2,000 British citizens working in Taiwan, while around 37,000 Britons visited the island last year.

Updated : 2022-01-24 19:42 GMT+08:00