Italy, UK Affirm Importance of Maintaining Peace Over Taiwan

Italy, UK Affirm Importance of Maintaining Peace Over Taiwan
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomes Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to 10 Downing Street in London on April 27, 2023. (James Manning/PA Media)
Aldgra Fredly

The leaders of the UK and Italy have affirmed the need for peace over the Taiwan Strait in a memorandum of understanding as Beijing continues to exert military pressure against the self-ruled island.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) (pdf) on bilateral cooperation during a meeting in London on April 27.

The two leaders voiced their shared opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increased its military presence.

“We reaffirm the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues without the threat or use of force or coercion,” they said.

The British and Italian leaders also raised concerns over China’s human rights abuses against minority groups in Xinjiang and Tibet, as well as the CCP’s continued erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the MOU between the UK and Italy, which it stated demonstrated the willingness of democratic partners to strive for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

“The Taiwan government is pleased that nations worldwide are taking action to help ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” the ministry said in a statement.

The UK and Italy have no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but they maintain economic and trade cooperation with the self-ruled island.

Warning of ‘Catastrophic’ Effects of Taiwan Conflict

The MOU follows British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s remarks on April 25 affirming the UK’s support for a peaceful resolution to cross-Strait issues between China and Taiwan.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 7, 2023. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly leaves 10 Downing Street in London on March 7, 2023. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

“Taiwan is a thriving democracy and a crucial link in global supply chains, particularly for advanced semiconductors,” Cleverly said in his address at a Mansion House banquet in London.

Cleverly warned of the potential “catastrophic” effects of any conflict over Taiwan, saying that “a war across the Strait would not only be a human tragedy, it would destroy world trade worth $2.6 trillion.”

He said no country could shield itself from the repercussions of such a conflict and the “catastrophic blow” to the global economy.

“I shudder to contemplate the human and financial ruin that would follow. So it’s essential that no party takes unilateral action to change the status quo,” Cleverly said.

The CCP views Taiwan as a renegade province that must be united with China by any means necessary, even though Taiwan has never been ruled by the CCP and has its own democratic government.

Italy Condemns China’s Military Threats

Meloni, who was elected as Italy’s first female leader last year, said her right-wing Brothers of Italy party would stand with democratic countries in condemning Beijing’s military threats toward Taiwan.

She called on the European Union to use all of its “diplomatic and political means” to exert pressure on Beijing to avoid conflicts in the Taiwan Strait.

“Don’t forget that the EU is also China’s main export market. If they decide to attack Taiwan, it may lead to the closure of the market,” Meloni said in an interview with Taiwan’s Central News Agency last year.

Beijing staged three days of military drills around the self-ruled island on April 8 after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in California.

Chinese aircraft incursions into the region continued despite the fact that the CCP had already proclaimed the conclusion of its military exercise on April 10.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry stated that it detected 17 Chinese aircraft and eight vessels around the island on April 28, with 13 aircraft spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

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