Liz Truss’s trip to Taiwan risks ‘mortal wounds’ to China-UK relations, Beijing official warns

A planned visit to Taiwan by Liz Truss risks causing “mortal wounds to China-UK relations” and would alienate the two countries, a Chinese government official has warned.

And the trip next week will make it more likely that China will “exercise jurisdiction over Taiwan sooner rather than later”, according to Victor Goa.

Ms Truss, Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister, is due to deliver a speech on democracy during her visit to the island and to meet Taiwanese government officials.

Soldiers hoist the flag of Taiwan in Taipei (EPA)
Soldiers hoist the flag of Taiwan in Taipei (EPA)

China claims self-governing Taiwan as its territory, and Chinese president Xi Jinping has vowed to bring it under Beijing’s control.

The UK, like most countries, does not recognise Taiwan, nor have formal diplomatic relations with it, so Ms Truss’s visit could create a headache for ministers.

Chinese Communist Party media spokesperson Victor Goa told Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC that Ms Truss’s trip would “make it more likely that China will exercise jurisdiction over Taiwan sooner rather than later”.

He said her “illicit” visit could lead the situation towards “going over the point of no return”.

Mr Goa said: “Her proposed visit to Taiwan in her official capacity will only achieve one goal: that is to further alienate relations between China and Britain, hurting the fundamental interest of the British people.”

He warned Ms Truss should “pay attention to [how] she conducts herself, because she does not want to inflict mortal wounds to China UK relations”.

Former prime minister Liz Truss is set to visit Taiwan (PA Archive)
Former prime minister Liz Truss is set to visit Taiwan (PA Archive)

The trip comes at a delicate time, as China’s relationship with Britain is under strain. Soon after taking over from Ms Truss as PM, Rishi Sunak declared the “golden era” of relations with China over, calling for “robust pragmatism” towards competitors.

The former foreign secretary has previously said western democracies should toughen their stance on Beijing.

In February she called for ties with Taiwan to be boosted to combat threats from China, urging countries to send a message to Beijing that military aggression towards Taiwan would be a strategic mistake.

She said the West “should be doing all we can to make sure Taiwan has the support it needs to defend itself”.

In a statement before her visit, she said: “Taiwan is a beacon of freedom and democracy. I’m looking forward to showing solidarity with the Taiwanese people in person in the face of increasingly aggressive behaviour and rhetoric from the regime in Beijing.”