Learn Ukraine lessons and apply them to Taiwan, says British foreign minister

British foreign minister Liz Truss said countries had to make sure Taiwan was defended. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - The West must learn from its mistakes in failing to deter Russia's invasion of Ukraine and apply those lessons to Taiwan to "protect peace and stability in the Taiwan strait", British foreign minister Liz Truss said on Thursday (June 30).

Tensions between Taiwan and China, which regards the island as its own territory, have risen in recent years as China steps up military activities near Taiwan to pressure it to accept Chinese rule.

Truss said the West, and in particular countries in the Indo-Pacific region, had to make sure Taiwan was defended.

"What I'm saying is that we need to learn the lessons of Ukraine, which was that we could have ensured that Ukraine had the defensive capability earlier," Truss told LBC radio.

"And that would have done more to deter (Russian President Vladimir) Putin from invading, so called deterrence by denial."

In Beijing, the foreign ministry said China had lodged an official complaint with Britain over Truss' remarks on Taiwan.

"The lack of common sense and the arrogance of her remarks are surprising," ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing on Thursday. "We hope she will not make such irresponsible remarks in the future." 

At a Nato meeting in Spain on Wednesday, Truss told a panel session that China was "extending its influence through economic coercion and building a capable military" and that "there is a real risk that they draw the wrong idea which results in a catastrophic miscalculation such as invading Taiwan".

Asked to comment on Truss' Wednesday remarks about Taiwan, Zhao reiterated China's position that Taiwan is part of China, its internal affair and said no external force had a right to interfere.

On Thursday, Truss avoided questions about whether she was suggesting that Britain should arm Taiwan, saying only: "We also need to make sure that together, the free world are ensuring that Taiwan has the defence capability it needs."

She also said Britain should continue to build trade ties with China but avoid becoming strategically dependent on it.

"Of course, we should continue to trade with China. But we need to be careful not to become strategically dependent on China."

On Thursday, spokesman Zhao responded that using ideology and small circles to artificially separate the world's supply chains would not succeed.

Britain and at least six other nations have been helping Taiwan in a secretive programme to build submarines, a Reuters investigation found last year.

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