Taiwan and China: Ros Atkins discusses ‘power struggle’

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On Thursday Beijing sent its warning after the UK’s Foreign Secretary promised solidarity with Lithuania, which has drawn the wrath of Beijing because of its growing ties with Taiwan. China’s President Xi Jinping has claimed he will take control of the island democracy of Taiwan as part of China’s long term expansionist ambitions. The politburo in Beijing told Ms Truss not to create “new obstacles” in relations between London and China after she voiced support for Lithuania.

Beijing told the Foreign Secretary to “refrain from creating new obstacles for the development of the China-UK relationship”.

Earlier this week Ms Truss and her counterparts from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia said they would jointly “remain principled on our shared values in the face of the systematic challenges posed by China”.

China has accused Lithuania of breaching the “One China” policy by allowing Taiwan to set up a representative office in its capital Vilnius.

The representative office comes under the name “Taiwanese,” rather than using the word “Taipei,” which is the more acceptable term for China.

After Ms Truss lent her support to Lithuania, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said in a statement: “We have noticed the relevant reports and express our concern over the remarks of the UK side.”

The embassy insisted that China’s development “does not pose any threat to any country”.

The embassy urged Ms Truss to handle its “One China” stance “properly”.

The Chinese embassy added: “China urges the UK to have a right understanding of the relevant issue.

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The UK must handle it properly and refrain from creating new obstacles for the development of the China-UK relationship.”

Over the past few week, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of aerial sorties over the sea separating the Chinese mainland from Taiwan.

This has served as a reminder that the Taiwan strait has the potential to be one of the most dangerous places on Earth.

There have been approximately 149 incursions in four days by People’s Liberation Army planes into Taiwan’s air defence zone.

The incursions have left the independent island democracy on high alert as it warned that China could be capable of invading by 2025.

Beijing seeks to bring the symbolically important island of Taiwan back under its control.

However, the US sees Taiwan in the context of broader challenges from a rising China.

Speaking to the Independent, Henry Boyd, a Britain-based defense analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies said: “From the US perspective, the concept of a great power rivalry with China has driven this back up the agenda.

“The need to stand up to China is a strong enough motivating factor that not taking this fight would also be seen as a betrayal of American national interests.”

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