Boosting Tie:
This year’s government-level UK-Taiwan trade talks will focus on industries such as financial technology, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals.

  • By Ben Blanchard / Reuters, TAIPEI

A British minister will visit Taiwan this week for trade talks and meet President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), his office said yesterday, sparking anger from Beijing over the latest high-level engagement between Western governments and Taipei. .

Britain’s Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands will meet Tsai during his two-day visit and host the 25th annual UK-Taiwan Trade Talks.

“The actual visit to Taiwan is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to promoting UK-Taiwan trade relations. Like the UK, Taiwan is a champion of free and fair trade underpinned by a rules-based global trading system,” Hands’ office said in a statement.

Photo: AP

The annual government-level trade talks, first held in 1991, went online in 2020 and last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s discussion will focus on industries such as financial technology, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals, the statement said.

During the trade talks, the UK’s national innovation agency, Innovate UK, will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Economic Affairs for increased cooperation on technology and innovation, it said.

The deal will include a £5 million (US$5.6 million) funding commitment until 2025 and support for British businesses through a bespoke innovation program in Taiwan, it said.

In Beijing, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said China firmly opposes any form of official exchange between the state with which it has diplomatic relations and Taiwan.

“We call on the British side to stop any official exchanges with Taiwan and to stop sending the wrong signal to separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence,” Zhao said.

Hands will hold meetings with Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津), Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花), Digital Development Minister Audrey Tang (唐鳳), National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (明龎鳳). ) and Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), leader of the Taiwan side in the trade talks.

Taiwan sees the UK as a like-minded democratic partner and has been pleased by London’s concerns about Chinese war games near the nation and its support for its participation in international institutions, most of which Taiwan is closed over Chinese objections.

The UK, like Taiwan, is bidding to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Members agreed in February that the UK could go ahead with its application as it seeks new trading relationships after leaving the EU.

China has also applied to participate.

Western lawmakers and other officials continue to visit Taiwan despite strong objections from Beijing.

China held war games near Taiwan in August after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.

China on Sunday sent 46 warplanes and four navy ships towards Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said on Twitter.

The number of flights was the largest since Sept. 1, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.

Additional reporting by CNA and Bloomberg

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