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COP26: China pressures Scottish delegates not to attend Taiwan event

5 November 2021, 22:12 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 15:07

Scottish politicians are being pressured by the Chinese government not to attend a Taiwanese environmental event.
Scottish politicians are being pressured by the Chinese government not to attend a Taiwanese environmental event. Picture: Alamy/LBC
Gina Davidson

By Gina Davidson

Scottish politicians are being pressured by the Chinese government not to attend a Taiwanese environmental event being held to coincide with the UN summit, LBC can reveal.

Labour MSP Paul O’Kane and Councillor Philip Braat, the Labour Lord Provost of Glasgow City Council - where the massive conference is taking place - are among a host of politicians invited to attend Taiwan Day this Sunday.

But the Chinese Consul General in Scotland has written to them claiming they are being “exploited” by Taiwan who will ask them to support independence from China.

SNP representatives also due to attend have not been contacted by Chinese representatives, leading to speculation China has targeted Labour politicians in an attempt to use the Scottish constitutional issue in an attempt to find support for its actions towards Taiwan.

The letters could spark a diplomatic incident at the climate summit - which the Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping has refused to attend. China has continually warned the West from increasing ties with Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory.

Read more: COP26 Analysis: There's no 'extra time' in the fight against climate change

Despite not being part of the UN, 30 Taiwan delegates have arrived in Glasgow including the country’s Environmental Protection Administration Deputy Minister Shen Chih-hsiu, to showcase the nation’s actions to address the climate crisis. President Ing-Wen is also expected to fly in for Sunday’s event.

Mr O’Kane, MSP for the West of Scotland region, who is due to speak at Taiwan Day event said he had been “shocked” to receive the letter from the Chinese Consul General Ma Qiang.

He added: “The letter essentially suggests this event is a cover using COP26 and those issues to cover for the advancement of Taiwanese independence which China strongly objects to… and it told me not to attend essentially.”

The letter from Mr Qiang said the Taiwan issue was “highly sensitive” and added: “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.

“We firmly oppose their seek of “Taiwan independence” which leads to nowhere but a dead end. China cherishes unity and opposes separation as the UK government does.

“I have to say the host of event schemingly exploit your capacity as MSP to endorse their independence obsession under the cover of climate co-operation between Taiwan and Scotland. I hope you can see through it… and do not attend the Taiwan Day event.”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald, who is also speaking at the event, said: “Any attempt by the government of China, via it’s consulate in Edinburgh, to interfere with the work of democratically elected politicians in Scotland or the government of Taiwan and its delegation, should be given a very cold shoulder.”

Both said they would be attending Sunday’s event.

The Chinese Consul General could not be reached for comment. BUt a spokesperson of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK thanked the Labour MSP for his “determination to share his insights and experience in climate change legislations with our legislators”

“We urge the Chinese Consul General in Edinburgh to stop politicizing the efforts and contributions made by Taiwan in tackling global climate change.”