Chinese Ambassador to UK Cautions British MPs Against Going to Taiwan After Pelosi
01:10 GMT 03.08.2022 (Updated: 07:53 GMT 06.08.2022)
Earlier on Monday, while US House Speaker Pelosi was playing coy about her upcoming visit to the island, it was revealed the UK's House of Commons foreign affairs committee was reportedly preparing to travel to Taiwan later this year, most likely in late November or early December.
The Chinese ambassador to the UK has warned British lawmakers against "dancing to the tune of the United States" and threatened "severe consequences" if they travel to Taiwan, The Guardian reported
Ambassador Zheng Zeguang, who has been on the UK parliament's list of sanctioned individuals since last summer, reportedly reminded the British government of the joint communiqué the two nations signed in 1972, when they first started exchanging ambassadors during a news conference in London.
The British lawmakers' planned trip to the island and some British politicians' commitment to "defend Taiwan," according to the Chinese envoy, would both be "serious violations of the one-China principle and the [Sino-UK] joint communiqué."
"It is […] interference in China’s internal affairs that will inevitably lead to severe consequences in China-UK relations," he is quoted as saying. "We call on the UK side to abide by the joint communiqué […] and not to underestimate the extreme sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, and not to follow the US’s footsteps."
In recent years, tensions over Taiwan have increased between China and several Western countries, including the UK.
Zheng made his remark as Nancy Pelosi started her contentious trip to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own. Pelosi claimed that the purpose of her trip was to show support for the island's government, and Beijing responded by issuing a number of cautionary statements
China's defense ministry announced on Tuesday that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had been placed on "high alert," and that it would conduct a number of targeted military operations, including missile tests in the waters east of Taiwan and drills encircling the main island for four days.
Zheng reportedly concluded by repeating the warning made by his Chinese President Xi Jinping, who conveyed a similar message to US President Joe Biden during their phone discussion last week.
"As I said, those who play with fire will get burned," Zheng said.
He also asked British politicians to "stop making up stories" and "be realistic" about the basis of bilateral relations in response to comments against China made by Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, the two UK Conservative leadership hopefuls, over the past few weeks.
The Chinese ambassador added that, in light of rising inflation and the ongoing cost of living crisis, talk of "decoupling" between the Chinese and British economies is "self-defeating" and will ultimately "undermine the interests of [British] consumers."
The nature of the Taiwan question, he added, "is completely different
However, the outlet reported, Zheng was careful about what he said of would-be Tory leaders.
"We will work with whoever becomes the new PM for the development of the China-UK relationship,” he said.