Former prime minister Liz Truss is set to continue her comeback tour with a visit to Taiwan.
She is expected to deliver a speech there next week amid fears over what the trip could mean for UK-China relations, after foreign secretary James Cleverly warned Britain should not “pull the shutters down” on the Asian superpower.
It comes after the Chinese military announced “combat readiness patrols” as a warning to Taiwanese who want to make the island’s de facto independence permanent after meetings with US politicians.
Truss highlighted Beijing’s “increasingly aggressive behaviour and rhetoric” in comments ahead of the trip. The government is understood to be aware of the planned visit.
“Taiwan is a beacon of freedom and democracy,” she said.
‘Deep and growing ties’
“I’m looking forward to showing solidarity with the Taiwanese people in person in the face of increasingly aggressive behaviour and rhetoric from the regime in Beijing.”
A foreign office spokesperson said: “We have no diplomatic relations with Taiwan but a strong, unofficial relationship, based on deep and growing ties in a wide range of areas, and underpinned by shared democratic values.”
Truss’ team said she was expected to meet senior members of the Taiwanese government.
It follows recent speeches to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China in Tokyo in February and to the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC last month.
Truss has been setting out how Western democracies should toughen their stance on China.
It will also come after the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, where Truss is expected to expand on her idea of an “economic NATO”.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We wouldn’t get involved in the independent travel decisions of a private citizen who is not a member of the government.”