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MPs visiting Taiwan to prepare for possible attack by ‘more aggressive’ China

The Independent logo The Independent 30/11/2022 Sophie Wingate
Tobias Ellwood loses whip © PA Wire Tobias Ellwood loses whip

It is important to prepare for a potential invasion of Taiwan by a “more aggressive, more assertive” China, said a senior Conservative who is part of a delegation of MPs visiting the island.

Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, said the west cannot afford to lose “another democratic partner” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It's so important to understand what is going on here and prepare for what might be coming over the hill

Tobias Ellwood MP

MPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee are visiting Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, until Saturday and meeting dignitaries amid strained UK relations with Beijing.

“President Xi (Jinping) has made it clear that it (China) will use forces necessary to take this island and I think there are lessons to be learned from Ukraine,” Mr Ellwood told Sky News from Taipei.

“China is now getting more aggressive, more assertive, and if President Xi fulfils his promise, the impact would be huge.”

It would give China momentum to further pursue its authority authoritarian agenda, he said.

“How would the west look after that – losing another democratic partner? So it’s so important to understand what is going on here and prepare for what might be coming over the hill.”

The visit follows heightened tensions between the west and China over US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the self-ruling island in August, which prompted Mr Xi to sever some diplomatic ties.

Asked about China’s possible reaction to British MPs visiting Taiwan, Mr Ellwood said: “China reacted very angrily, wanting to shoo any politician from coming here to see what’s going on.

“That interferes with their plans, but there are 23 million people here who have, I think, a very different view about that.”

He praised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s statement that the “golden era” of UK-Chinese relations is over but added: “We do need to go further and supporting Taiwan has got to be high on the agenda.”

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