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Two B.C. MPs currently on parliamentary trip to Taiwan

Canada only formally recognizes Mainland China, but maintains informal relations with Taiwan. Canada-Taiwan trade reached $10.2 billion in 2021, up from $7.4 billion a year earlier
A 10-member parliamentary delegation from Ottawa is currently visiting Taiwan

A touring delegation of members of Parliament, including two Liberals from Surrey, dined with the speaker of Taiwan’s parliament in Taipei on Monday.

In a speech, You Si-kun, officially known as the president of the Legislative Yuan, said that Taiwan and Canada have suffered similarly from China’s hostage diplomacy, economic coercion, theft of scientific research, interference in elections and intimidation of citizens.

“The economy is very important, but if we lose ‘freedom, equality and fraternity,’ human beings will fall into the abyss of the jungle and return to the uncivilized world,” You told the group, according to the Legislative Yuan website.

Ken Hardie (Surrey-Fleetwood), chair of the Special Committee on the Canada-People’s Republic of China Relationship, and Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre), chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, are part of the House of Commons break week trip. John McKay, the Scarborough-Guildwood Liberal who chairs the National Defence Committee, is the official leader of the 10-member group that also includes Conservative Michael Chong, NDP’s Heather McPherson and Stephane Bergeron of the Bloc Quebecois.

According to a translation of the Legislative Yuan website, McKay said Taiwan and Canada have “become more and more compatible in recent years” and that Canada must stand with Taiwan.

Last October, Liberal MP Judy Sgro (Humber River-Black Creek) led a delegation to Taiwan, where she said Taiwan should become a member of the World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Authority.

More than 23 million people live in Taiwan, which is similar in geographic size to Vancouver Island. Taiwanese companies have almost two-thirds of global market share in computer chips, key to the 21st century economy. Canada and Taiwan trade reached $10.2 billion in 2021, up from $7.4 billion a year earlier. Both governments agreed in February to start talks on an investment deal in the wake of November’s announcement of Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

You also mentioned another link between Canada and Taiwan: Presbyterian missionary-dentist George Leslie Mackay who arrived in 1871 Taiwan, when it was known as Formosa.

The MPs are scheduled to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice-President William Kai. Tsai returned home last week following a trip to allies Belize and Guatemala that included stopovers in New York and Los Angeles, where she met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. That meeting triggered the People’s Republic of China to conduct three days of war games around Taiwan, similar to last summer when previous speaker Nancy Pelosi travelled to meet Tsai in Taipei.

The Canadian delegation’s trip comes less than two weeks after the committee that Hardie chairs released a report called Canada and Taiwan: A Strong Relationship in Turbulent Times.

It included 18 recommendations on strengthening bilateral economic, trade, cultural and diplomatic ties, while adhering to Canada’s “one China” policy. Since 1970, Canada has officially recognized only Mainland China, but maintains informal relations with Taiwan.

The report recommended the federal government declare that the future of Taiwan be solely in the hands of Taiwanese people, and that it publicly call on Beijing to refrain from escalating military threats against Taiwan.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa reacted angrily to the committee’s report, declaring that the “Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair.”

China claims Taiwan is a rebel province and Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has said his goal is “reunification,” even by military force. Taiwan, however, was never part of the 1949-formed People’s Republic of China.