British politicians should avoid following the US example by “playing with fire” when it comes to the Taiwan issue, the Chinese ambassador to London said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Zheng Zeguang said such actions “will inevitably lead to severe consequences for China-UK relations,” adding that British officials should refrain from talking about “helping Taiwan defend itself,” or visiting the island.
The diplomat stressed that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei “seriously infringed on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and seriously undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” Zheng called on the UK “not to dance to the tune of the United States.”
Like Washington, London officially adheres to the “One China policy,” but maintains unofficial ties with Taiwan. On Monday, the Guardian reported that Britain’s House of Commons foreign affairs committee is planning a visit to Taiwan later this year – probably in November or early December. The Taipei representative office in London told the paper it “welcomes any opportunities to strengthen its relations with Britain, including through visits from the UK,” but refused to confirm any details of the proposed trip.
In April, UK Foreign Secretary and current candidate for prime minister, Liz Truss said that the UK must learn the lessons of Ukraine and supply defensive weapons to Taipei.
Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, when China’s nationalist government fled to the island following its defeat in the civil war. Beijing considers the island an integral part of the country’s territory and has repeatedly warned that the One China principle is a red line.
The visit by Nancy Pelosi, the third most senior official in the US government, has angered Beijing. On Tuesday night, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns, telling him, according to state-run newspaper the Global Times that “the US must pay the price for its own mistake” and that “China will take necessary and resolute countermeasures.”
After Pelosi touched down in Taipei late on Tuesday, Beijing announced a series of military exercises and live-fire drills in six maritime areas and Chinese-controlled airspace around Taiwan.