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President Tsai meets UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee delegation
President Tsai meets UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee delegation

On the morning of December 2, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the United Kingdom House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. In remarks, President Tsai said that Taiwan and the UK are engaging in strategic cooperation on issues including trade policy, supply chains, and economic resilience, and expressed confidence that our bilateral exchanges will increase and our partnership will deepen further. The president also thanked the UK parliament for its growing support for Taiwan, and said that she looks forward to working with the UK to create more opportunities for collaboration so that we can further advance our bilateral relations.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

It is a great pleasure to welcome our good friends from the UK House of Commons. This official delegation, led by Chair of the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Alicia Kearns, marks the first visit to Asia by the Foreign Affairs Committee during the current parliamentary session. And that this is an exclusive visit to Taiwan makes it all the more meaningful. I want to take this opportunity to thank our guests and the UK Parliament for their staunch support for Taiwan.

In February, Chair Kearns put forward a motion on Taiwan-UK friendship and cooperation in the House of Commons. Many members of parliament supported the motion and actively spoke out in favor of elevating bilateral relations. Soon after, in May, more than 100 members from both Houses of Parliament signed a joint letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), strongly backing Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA).

We were deeply touched by this support and friendship, and appreciate the cross-party parliamentary interest in enhancing Taiwan-UK relations and the increasing level of support for Taiwan in the UK Parliament.

We are also grateful that last year, when the United Kingdom held the G7 rotating presidency, the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers for the first time issued a communiqué underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Early last month, the G7 Foreign Ministers and High Representative of the European Union also issued a statement reaffirming this position.

Just a few days ago, we saw UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak express concern over geopolitical changes during a major speech. As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will do its utmost to ensure regional peace and stability. We believe that democratic countries must show even greater unity in the face of authoritarian expansion. We should work together to safeguard our shared values and make greater contributions to peace throughout the region.

We place immense importance on fostering Taiwan-UK relations. In recent years, our bilateral exchanges have grown closer across the board thanks to our joint efforts, yielding rich results. Early last month, for example, we held Taiwan-UK trade talks, and I met with UK Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands at the Presidential Office.

Taiwan and the United Kingdom are engaging in strategic cooperation on issues including trade policy, supply chains, and economic resilience. In addition, more than 30 UK offshore wind power companies have established offices in Taiwan.

In the future, whether it be in renewable energy, cybersecurity, medical biotechnology, technological innovation, or other areas, we are confident that bilateral exchanges will increase and that our partnership will deepen further.

This is the first visit to Taiwan for all of our guests. I want to thank you again for supporting Taiwan through concrete action and I hope that you will visit often. Let us work together to create more opportunities for collaboration so that we can further advance our bilateral relations.

Chair Kearns then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:

Madam President, on behalf of the committee, can I humbly thank you for your kind and warm welcome and the hospitality of the Taiwanese people who have embraced us over the last few days.

This is the first visit in 16 years of a committee of the British Parliament, and it has been a great privilege to be received by you and your ministers who have been so frank with us in their conversations this week. 

Because dialogue matters, Madam President, and it is entirely right that democracies engage in inter-parliamentary dialogue to better understand one another, to share experiences, and to discover opportunities for deepening of those friendships. And we came here to listen, to learn, and it is clear there is still much that we can learn from one another. And so I am very grateful for that opportunity.  

We've explored, during our visit, three critical pillars that appear to unite us: the first being democracy, the second resilience, and finally prosperity.

As democracies, we recognize that many have characterized the last two decades as a time in which the world has slid towards authoritarianism. But that has not happened here in Taiwan. And Taiwan proves that this need not be the case, because it has flourished from a fledgling democracy to one of the strongest democracies on Earth. 

Democracy offers a beacon of light in dark times, and it never before has been more important to make the case for the rule of law and the international rules-based order, and for democracies to stand unapologetic in defense of that which protects our way of life and the freedom of our people. 

On resilience, we face shared challenges, be it climate change, energy supply, supply chain diversity, or protecting our societies from cyber and disinformation. As the UK looks beyond the confines of our European neighborhood, whilst remaining strong in our support to our nearest and dearest, we enjoy a more global outlook. And we recognize and salute our valued friends across the Indo-Pacific as we lean in for mutual support. 

In Taiwan I am sure that we have a steadfast friend. As Taiwan has proven with its immediate assistance to our friends in Ukraine, where within a week of Putin's renewed illegal invasion, the people of Taiwan sent a shipment of urgent medicines. And again in the pandemic, where others obfuscated, Taiwan stood as a clarion voice, alerting the world to the virus which brought darkness to all of us, and then sharing their practice to help us recover as swiftly as possible. 

And I hope that we can turn to our friends in Taiwan to better develop our Mandarin capabilities, as we seek to extend the hand of friendship to all, and as we assist Taiwan in its aim of becoming an English-speaking bilingual by 2030 and to also grow our shared interest in global goods, especially green energy. 

And I hope that our allies will also stand with us and welcome Taiwan's participation in more multilateral bodies, and ideally, as a full member in multilateral bodies such as the WHO, where we know Taiwan has such a unique and important perspective to bring. And I also call for an end to the unjust obstructionism that shuts Taiwan out. Not least given their contribution to global health in exposing COVID-19.

There is no doubt that partnership with Taiwan makes us more resilient, but it also can be a great force multiplier when it comes to our prosperity. We are already beginning to see the benefits from mutual exchanges in green energy and technology. As Madam President mentioned, over 30 UK offshore wind companies are working with Taiwan, and that it is more than any other place on Earth. On semiconductors, we are working together to further develop our capabilities and technological advantage. And I know we all hope to further two-way trade and investment links, given the tremendous potential and our complementary economies.

Madam President, our political systems may be different, but they share a common basis: a government that is chosen by and accountable to the people. And it is clear that the heart of what drives Taiwan is the desire of its people to safeguard that precious democracy, to safeguard your way of life, to safeguard stability in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, to safeguard the hand of friendship that you have reached out across the world, and to safeguard Taiwan's culture and the warm and open heart of its people.

As we leave Taiwan tomorrow, we leave certain that in Taiwan we have a friend. And together we can play our part in making the world a greener, healthier, and more peaceful and prosperous place. We may be two islands separated by continents, but we are drawn together by our shared beliefs, the belief in democracy, in the rule of law, the rights of the individual, and, of course, a shared love of tea.

Also present at the meeting were Members of the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Liam Byrne, Stewart Malcolm McDonald, Royston Smith, and Neil Coyle, as well as British Office Taipei Representative John Dennis.

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