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The United Kingdom extended a “special invitation” to Taiwan’s representative in the country to sign Queen Elizabeth II’s condolence book along with other nations in yet another slight to China on Sunday.
The U.K. does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan due to the insistence of Beijing that the island is its sovereign territory. Nevertheless, Taiwan’s de-facto ambassador to the U.K. was invited with other foreign dignitaries to sign the condolence book, according to a statement from Taiwan’s foreign ministry.
Taiwan’s representative in London, Kelly Hsieh, “enjoyed the same treatment as the heads of state, representatives and members of the royal family of other countries who have gone to Britain to mourn,” the ministry wrote.
The move comes as China is growing increasingly aggressive toward Taiwan. The Chinese military held live-fire military exercises around the island in August in a simulation of an invasion.
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The U.S. and U.K. have remained staunch allies of Taiwan, with U.S. lawmakers frequently visiting the island amid China’s bullying.
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Taiwan is frequently left out of international events at China’s insistence. For instance, the country is relegated to an observer status within the World Health Organization. The self-governed island is also referred to as “Chinese Taipei” at the Olympics and other international tournaments rather than “Taiwan.”
Taiwan split from mainland China when democratic forces fled to the island after losing a civil war to the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.
The U.S. and other Western countries operate under the One China Policy, which states that the government in Beijing is the only legitimate government of China. It also states that countries will not hold formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Nevertheless, the U.S. has provided billions in security funding for the island, and the Senate voted forward an additional $4.5 billion in funding last week.
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“The bill we are approving today makes clear the United States does not seek war or increased tensions with Beijing,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, said after the 17-5 vote. “Just the opposite. We are carefully and strategically lowering the existential threats facing Taiwan by raising the cost of taking the island by force so that it becomes too high a risk and unachievable.”
Reuters contributed to this report.