After a petition calling for Taiwan to be recognized as an independent country received over 20,000 signatures, the UK government has deigned to give an official response. And following weeks of suspense, the response is that the UK will be maintaining their long-standing position to the contrary. In short, nothing to see here.
But for the sake of reporting, here’s the full response:
The long standing position of Her Majesty’s Government is that we do not recognise 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 recognises the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China’.
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. 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, favourable 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 £5.8bn in 2014 with the total value of exports of UK goods and services to Taiwan standing at £1.96bn. 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 organisations for which statehood is not a requirement, such as the WTO, and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Launched in January, the petition was made by British citizen Lee Chapman, reportedly the partner of a Taiwanese woman.
As of today, the petition has garnered close to 20,900 signatures. If it reaches 100,000 by this July, the Parliament is obligated to debate on the matter. While that would obviously be a hoot, don’t hold your breath.
This non-outcome is just the latest installment in a storm that’s been brewing between China and Taiwan for quite some time now, and it’s only getting weirder and weirder.