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International relations

No wonder China doesn’t take us seriously

A Chinese missile launch during last week’s military exercises

What a lot of rubbish the West talks about Taiwan, says Peter Hitchens in The Mail on Sunday. If we’re really prepared to defend the island state against China, why not invite it to join Nato? After all, the defence alliance operates all over the world these days, bombing Libya and sending troops to Afghanistan. Alas, the truth is that the West abandoned Taiwan long ago. Our first shameful retreat came in 2008, when Gordon Brown sought Beijing’s help in dealing with the banking crisis. Until then, Britain had recognised Tibet as “special and different from the rest of China”. But as part of a settlement reached with the IMF, Britain caved in, cravenly recognising that Tibet was in fact “part of the People’s Republic of China”.

That’s not the only example of our deference towards Beijing. Since 2005 we’ve had two Chinese presidential visits to Britain – on both occasions, shamefully, our police “worked hard to ensure that the visiting tyrants [were] spared the sight of protesters against their rule”. Like the “mighty US”, we are “too scared of China” to recognise Taiwan as an actual country or to maintain an embassy in its capital Taipei. When China demanded that the island state be expelled from the UN, we meekly stood by and let it happen. And all the while, we claim to be Taiwan’s “resolute defenders”. How Beijing “must laugh at our posturing”.