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West must ‘get real’ on military co-operation, Truss to say in Taiwan visit

Liz Truss will warn that there cannot be ‘meaningful deterrence without hard power’, during a high-profile visit to Taiwan next week.

Dominic McGrath
Saturday 13 May 2023 22:55 BST
Former prime minister Liz Truss (Daniel Leal/PA)
Former prime minister Liz Truss (Daniel Leal/PA) (PA Archive)

Liz Truss is to warn that there cannot be “meaningful deterrence without hard power”, during a high-profile visit to Taiwan next week.

The former prime minister, who was widely expected to move the UK Government on to a more hawkish footing when it came to dealings with China, is expected to meet Taiwanese government officials during the trip.

The visit comes during a sensitive time for relations between the West and Beijing, with tensions over the rise of China as a global power.

According to the Sunday Express, Ms Truss will urge the West to “get real about military and defence cooperation” to avoid conflict in the South China Sea.

“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”, Ms Truss is expected to say.

Rishi Sunak’s Government has adopted less hawkish language than Ms Truss, updating the UK’s integrated review on foreign and defence policy in March to describe China as representing an “epoch-defining and systemic challenge”.

“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,” she will say during the visit.

“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 No10 lasted 44 days after a disastrous market 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 £8.5 billion, it would also help generate further economic links and resilience for this important democracy.

The UK should champion the fast tracking of Taiwan’s accession in collaboration with key members,” she will say.

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

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