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UK Approves Increase In Submarine Parts Export To Taiwan, Risking Enraging China
According to UK government export licencing data, the value of licences granted by the British government to companies for the export of submarine-related components and technology to Taiwan reached a record USD 201.29 million during the first nine months of last year
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Britain approved a significant increase in submarine parts and technology exports to Taiwan last year as it upgrades its naval forces, a move that could have an impact on British-Chinese relations.
According to UK government export licencing data, the value of licences granted by the British government to companies for the export of submarine-related components and technology to Taiwan reached a record USD 201.29 million during the first nine months of last year.
Although the data is public, the most recent Taiwan-related figures have not previously been reported.
Beijing, under the One-China policy, considers Taiwan to be a part of China and strongly opposes perceived foreign interference with the island, believing it to be support for Taiwan's desire to be recognised as its own country.
China's foreign ministry issued a statement that said, “If this is true, it is a serious violation of the one-China principle, undermines China's sovereignty and security interests, and undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
“China is deeply concerned about this and strongly opposes it,” the written statement said, urging Britain to “refrain from providing military assistance to the Taiwan authorities.”
Britain does not recognise Taiwan and has no formal diplomatic relations with the island; however, economic and trade ties exist, and there is a de facto British embassy in Taipei.
According to a British government spokesperson, the UK has a long history of “granting licences for exports of controlled goods to Taiwan on a case-by-case basis, where those applications are consistent with the rules that govern the export of arms and dual-use products.”
“We consider the Taiwan issue to be one that should be resolved peacefully by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait through constructive dialogue, without the threat or use of force or coercion,” the statement went on to say.
The increased number of licences granted reflects increased demand from Taiwan, according to two government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue.
The approvals, according to two lawmakers with knowledge of the exports and two former officials, reflect Britain's increased willingness to support Taiwan. According to one of the lawmakers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, authorising the export licences amounted to giving Taiwan the “green light” to better equip itself.
The data comes from the Export Control Organisation, which is part of the UK Department for International Trade and is in charge of export licencing. It shows that the government granted 25 export licences to Taiwan during the first nine months of 2022 in the categories “submarine components and submarine technology.”
The information does not reveal which companies received the authorization or what specific equipment it covers.
One licence type, called ML9, covers “vessels of war, special naval equipment, accessories, components and other surface vessels,” according to Britain's list of strategic military items that require export authorisation. Another licence type, ML22, covers technology used in the development, production, operation, installation, maintenance and repair of goods or software.
The British government announced an increase in defence spending on Monday as part of an update to its defence, security, and foreign policy priorities, outlining how it plans to “tackle new threats” from China and Russia.