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UK restates position on Taiwan in response to petition

ROC Central News Agency

2016/02/05 09:37:03

London, Feb. 4 (CNA) The British government on Thursday reiterated its official position of not recognizing Taiwan as a country and said the issue of Taiwan's status should be resolved through dialogue based on the wishes of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Responding to a petition that demands official recognition of Taiwan as a country, the British government began by saying: 'The longstanding position of Her Majesty's Government is that we do not recognize Taiwan as a state.'

'The 1972 Joint Communique between the United Kingdom and China set out that: 'The UK acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is a province of the People's Republic of China and recognizes the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China,'' according to the response prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the government department responsible for foreign affairs.

'The United Kingdom believes that the Taiwan issue should be resolved through dialogue, in line with the views of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, (which lies between Taiwan and China).

'Recent years have seen a substantial increase in transport, tourism and trade links across the Strait, which have contributed to peace and stability. We hope that this trend will continue.

'The United Kingdom and Taiwan have a strong but unofficial relationship, based on dynamic commercial, educational and cultural ties and facilitated by The British Office, Taipei, and the Taipei Representative Office in London.

'This relationship delivers significant benefits to both the UK and Taiwan and has featured a wide range of exchanges and visits, for example on environmental, judicial and educational issues.

We encourage British companies to take advantage of Taiwan's thriving economy, favorable business environment and close trade and investment links with the wider region.

'Taiwan is the UK's 6th largest market in the Asia Pacific region. Two-way trade reached a historic high of £5.8 billion (US$8.45 billion) in 2014 with the total value of exports of UK goods and services to Taiwan standing at £1.96 billion. UK exports to Taiwan grew by 2.3% in 2014.

'The United Kingdom and Taiwan also enjoy a constructive relationship in a range of multilateral organizations for which statehood is not a requirement, such as the WTO (World Health Organization), and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.'

Commenting on the official response, Taiwan's de facto ambassador to London said the fact that the Republic of China is a sovereign, independent nation is not diminished in any way.

The British government did not break any new ground but was merely restating its longstanding and consistent position, said Liu Chih-kung (劉志攻), Taiwan's representative to Britain.

The petition was initiated in January by Lee Chapman, a British citizen reportedly married to a Taiwanese woman.

He said in the petition that, because of its One- China policy, the United Kingdom does not recognize the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and all relations between the two countries take place on an unofficial basis.

'It's time to change this,' Chapman agues. 'Taiwan is an independent country.'

'...But China states that Taiwan is just another part of China,' he said in the petition. 'The consequence is that the USA, UK and most countries in the world don't want to upset China, therefore do not recognize Taiwan as a country.'

As of Feb. 4, 20,855 people had signed the petition.

The U.K. government's policy is to respond to all petitions that garner at least 10,000 signatures. With 100,000 signatures collected in six months, a petition will be considered for debate in Parliament, according to British law.

(By Jennifer Huang and Jay Chen)

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