Last night, I had the privilege of meeting and hearing a presentation given by Dr Lyushun Shen, Taipei Representative Office (Taiwan) in the UK, at a Conservative Foreign and Commonwealth Council (CFCC) meeting in London (28th January 2013).
Dr Shen gave a thoroughly interesting talk on Taiwan history, which encompassed Britain’s former colonial involvement in China and South China Sea region.
It was interesting to discover that when, in 1949, Chiang Kai-shek was forced to leave China and establish a government in Taiwan, many thousands of artefacts and China treaties were removed from the Forbidden City to Taiwan. Today, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry is the custodian of 173 original treaties and documents which are preserved in the Ministry archives.
They include the Treaty of Nanking (29 August 1842): marking the end of the First Opium War (1839–42), and the Convention of Peking (Beijing,): being three unequal treaties including the Treaty of Tien-tsin (June 1858) that ceded Hong Kong to Britain in perpetuity.
Treaty issues surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands (also known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan), currently disputed by Japan, were examined and proved that Japan’s claim to the islands has no historical validity. Today, 29th January, ‘China Daily’ online news reported that a Japanese delegation including Japan’s former prime minister Tomiichi Murayam had arrived in Beijing to discuss rising tensions over the islands.
Taiwan is a country whose population is only one third of Britain’s. It is geographically smaller than Switzerland, and has a GDP per capita 5% higher than that of the UK. The electronics sector is Taiwan’s most important industrial export sector, being the world’s largest supplier of contract computer chip manufacturing and a leading LCD panel manufacturer.
Finally Dr Shen emphasised the importance of education and trade, and in particular Taiwan’s business investment in the Asia-Pacific region. He explained the landscape of trade opportunities in the region, and the importance of Taiwan as a trading partner for British business investors.
© 2013 Dr Robert Frew. All rights reserved.