China compares Taiwan crisis to if ‘Scotland split itself from the UK’

China has criticised remarks by the British foreign secretary on the conflict between Beijing and Taiwan, and asked if the UK would remain calm if Scotland were to split from the United Kingdom.

In a briefing on Thursday in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin was asked about Liz Truss’s comments condemning China for escalating tensions in the region.

“The UK has mischaracterised the facts and made irresponsible remarks on China’s justified, necessary and lawful move to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mr Wang responded.

He said China “deplores” the remarks by Ms Truss, who is a frontrunner to take over as the next prime minister of the UK, and has “lodged solemn demarches with the UK side”.

Mr Wang reiterated China’s oft-repeated accusations that the US is responsible for tensions in the region and is the provocateur.

“The US is the one who made the provocation first and started the crisis. The DPP [Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan] authorities have been seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ through soliciting US support,” he said, adding that it is “legitimate, lawful and justified for China to uphold its territorial integrity and oppose secession”.

Mr Wang blamed the UK for turning a blind eye to “the US’s provocation and violation while groundlessly criticising the countermeasures China has taken for the sake of defending justice” and called it “typical double standard” that exposes the “UK’s hypocrisy stemming from its imperialist past”.

Mr Wang then went on to ask what would the UK’s response be if Scotland were to assert its freedom, without mentioning that Scotland has already had a referendum and may yet have another in the coming years.

If Scotland were to collude with external forces and split itself from the UK, would the UK remain calm, show restraint, sit by and watch the situation deteriorate?

Wang Wenbin, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson

A referendum concerning Scottish independence from the UK was held on 18 September 2014, when 55 per cent of Scots voted to remain a part of the UK.

Scottish nationalist politicians have over time demanded to hold another referendum, with Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, writing to Boris Johnson demanding a second vote.

The matter remains a legal tussle but Scottish politicians, both those for independence and those against, continue to speak freely on the matter.

The situation is far removed from the one in Taiwan, which has been self-governed since a civil war in the late 1940s but which China claims as its own breakaway province. Beijing has vowed to retake the island by force if necessary.

In 2005, China enacted an “anti-secession law” that allows it to use force on Taiwan if deemed necessary.

The current escalation, which has involved Chinese military drills of unprecedented scale around Taiwan, erupted after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island earlier this month.

China has been intolerant of any kind of independence movement brewing on the territories it does control, and has cracked down heavily on dissidents in resource-rich Tibet and Xinjiang, and with the controversial National Security Law in Hong Kong.

Mr Wang, in his statement, continued to denounce the UK for its alleged “hypocrisy” asking: “If facts and truth mean nothing to the UK, in what way could it possibly think it deserves a ‘Global Britain’?”

Mr Wang also said the UK follows the US’s lead and does the US’s bidding along with a handful of other countries and its reputation as an independent country has “long gone bankrupt”.

He also claimed that over 170 countries have voiced support for what he called the “justified measures China has taken to uphold its rights”, claiming their voices have “drowned out” the noise from statements from G7 countries.

The statements from countries outside of the G7 on Taiwan have largely called for restraint and a peaceful resolution of the matter, despite Mr Wang’s characterisation.

Many countries have reiterated that they recognise the one-China policy, something the US and the UK also officially support, but the military escalation in the region has raised broad international concerns.