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British MPs likely to visit Taiwan despite tensions: Report

UK government increasingly tough on China

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Woman holds up Taiwan national flags during National Day celebrations (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Woman holds up Taiwan national flags during National Day celebrations (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of British House of Commons members is reportedly visiting Taiwan in November or December amid warmer ties with Taiwan and a strained relationship with China.

The Guardian reported Monday (Aug. 1) that Tom Tugendhat, member of the Conservative Party and chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Commons, will head the delegation. The trip, originally slated for earlier this year, was put off due to a member testing positive for COVID-19.

The report cited a source as saying Tugendhat will proceed with the plan in a show of support for Taiwan despite the prospect of him being given a Cabinet-level job by Liz Truss before the trip. Incumbent Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is vying for the Conservative leadership and is considered a favorite against Rishi Sunak to become the next prime minister.

Whether the British politicians will meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) remains unclear as details of the visit are being worked out.

The move is another indication of stronger British engagement with Taiwan as it increasingly sees China as a threat. Both candidates for the position of prime minister have expressed a toughened stance towards Beijing and the British government has prevented acquisition proposals by Chinese companies over national security concerns.

The mounting political tensions have prompted British firms to recalibrate their supply chain strategies in an effort to decouple from China, wrote Reuters.