Dig at Liz Truss over Taiwan visit where she will tell West to ‘get real’ on military aid


The Government has taken a swipe at Liz Truss ahead of a high-profile trip to Taiwan where she is set to urge a tougher line towards China.

During the visit, the former prime minister is expected to tell the West “to get real about military and defence cooperation” and warn that there cannot be “meaningful deterrence without hard power”.

But a government source pointedly said the UK’s policy towards Taiwan remained “unchanged” from the time she was the foreign secretary and in Downing Street.

Ms Truss’s trip, during which she is due to meet Taiwanese government officials, comes during a sensitive time for relations between the West and an increasingly assertive Beijing.

China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan and says the island is not a separate country but part of “one China” governed by Beijing.

It has refused to rule out the use of force to impose its claims.

According to the Sunday Express, Ms Truss is expected to say: “We cannot pretend there can be meaningful deterrence without hard power.

“And if we are serious about preventing conflict in the South China Sea, we need to get real about military and defence cooperation.”

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She is also due to say: “I have come here this week at the invitation of the Taiwan government because I am an admirer of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people. I want to do all I can to support your continued success.

“I want to increase awareness around the world of the position you are in.

“I am also here because I believe this is the most consequential place in the world – in the most consequential struggle of our time.

“Where we are today is on the front line of the global battle for freedom.

“The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in an ideological struggle with the free world – they are open about that.

“This is a battle of ideas as much as it is an attempt to grab power on the global stage.”

The former prime minister and foreign secretary, whose time in No 10 lasted 44 days after a disastrous economic reaction to her mini-budget, will also back Taiwanese membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and call on Rishi Sunak to support a “fast-track” accession for Taiwan.

“Not only would Taiwan joining boost UK-Taiwan trade, which already stands at £8.5bn, it would also help generate further economic links and resilience for this important democracy,” she will say.

“The UK should champion the fast tracking of Taiwan’s accession in collaboration with key members.

“It is also vital that China is blocked from ever being a member of CPTPP.”

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US ‘determined’ to preserve Taiwan’s democracy

Mr Sunak’s government updated the UK’s integrated review on foreign and defence policy in March to describe China as representing an “epoch-defining and systemic challenge”.

But a government source said: “The government’s policy towards Taiwan is long-established and consistent.

“It remained unchanged throughout the time Liz Truss was the foreign secretary and prime minister, and is the same today.”

Visits by Western politicians to Taiwan have heightened tensions with China.

Last year, then US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island was condemned as a “provocation” by Beijing, who began military exercises around Taiwan shortly after she landed.

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