Taiwan

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Thursday 3rd March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, this is a very timely debate, for which I thank the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, against the background of increased military activity around Taiwan, as noted by a number of noble Lords. I declare an interest, having visited Taiwan three times, as declared in the register at the time. I have been privileged to meet President Tsai Ing-wen and former President Ma twice. I have nothing but respect for both, and for Taiwan’s entrepreneurial and intelligent people. I also commend Taiwan’s excellent response to the Covid pandemic, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and others.

As we have heard, Taiwanese-British links in, among other things, wind power, education, cultural exchange and even Scotch whisky, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, are remarkable and growing. Taiwan has a thriving civil society and democracy. Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for the others that have been tried. He also said that to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. We are witnessing a deplorable, awful tragedy unfolding in Europe, in Ukraine, which once more underlines how conflict should never be resolved by force.

We should never forget that in war, the greatest casualties are always innocent civilians. During the Korean War, in the early 1950s, which I studied a long time ago for my doctoral thesis, 2.5 million Korean civilians died—10% of the entire pre-war population. It was during that war that the US Seventh Fleet moved to protect what was then Formosa and was deployed to the Formosa Strait, as it was then called.

Of course, truth is the first casualty in war. War is not only about military assault but increasingly about disinformation and hybrid warfare. Democracy and freedom of speech are under attack across the globe as never before. Let us work together peacefully to preserve it while we still can.

Ukraine: Minsk II Protocol

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Wednesday 26th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Asked by
Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking (1) to ensure that all parties implement the Minsk II protocol, and (2) to defuse the tensions over Ukraine.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government support the Minsk protocols to deliver peaceful resolution to the conflict in full respect of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have condemned Russia’s aggressive acts and are working closely with our allies and partners to hold Russia to the commitments it signed up to freely, including the Helsinki Final Act, the Minsk protocols and the Budapest memorandum.

Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Non-Afl)
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I thank the Minister for that reply. The problem is that Russia does not see NATO as a defensive alliance—rather, it sees it as a group of countries, some of which are openly hostile to Russia, refusing to give any security guarantees while expanding eastwards to Russia’s borders. Unfortunately, the memories of NATO’s bombings of Tripoli and Belgrade are fresh. We are facing a very different series of global threats since the Atlantic alliance was formed in 1949. President Macron talked about a new security framework for Europe; perhaps this is something Her Majesty’s Government should think about to secure lasting peace for future generations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Lord will be aware, NATO is a defensive alliance. It was interesting to hear in the recent Statement of my right honourable friend the Defence Secretary—this is relevant to what we are discussing—that only 1/16th of the Russian border is actually shared with a NATO country. NATO is a defensive alliance, and it remains so. It is serving its purpose. We are working in unity, because what is required now is not just unity of words —it is unity of purpose and, indeed, unity of action.

Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy

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Thursday 22nd April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, when, in 1992, Francis Fukuyama heralded the post-Cold War ascendency of western liberal democracy as “the end of history”, he was somewhat premature. Global democracy has looked pretty rocky of late, with the latest example being the coup in Myanmar. The western system of democracy is under attack and being undermined, as the integrated review suggests. A large number of millennials in the US, Europe and the UK are questioning the legitimacy of democracy, just as large numbers of Hong Kongers have fought for it. Around half or slightly less of the world’s population live in a democracy. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s measure of democracy, in 2016 the US was demoted from a full democracy to a flawed democracy.

The integrated review is part of our fightback. The rise of China does not mean the inevitable decline of the West and our values. I had the privilege of presenting the European Parliamentary Labour Party’s submission to the 1998 strategic defence review by the then Defence Secretary, now the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, whom we heard earlier. The current integrated review claims to be the most significant foreign policy and security review since then.

I do not intend to repeat all the points well made by many noble and gallant Lords and experts in the field today. However, I agree that the integrated review lacks focus and a sense of prioritisation. It is, in a sense, too broad and too ambitious. Crucially, it is not at all apparent, even given the boost in defence expenditure, that this will meet the review’s stated aims, some of which appear contradictory.

I welcome the Indo-Pacific tilt as a case in point, as a recognition of the region’s growing economic and geopolitical importance. However, it is not clear how much resource will be allocated to the tilt to make it meaningful. The Indo-Pacific tilt also has implications for NATO, which the review says will remain the foundation of our collective security. Should this not result in NATO itself adapting to the new geopolitical reality of developments in the Indo-Pacific? HMS “Queen Elizabeth” will make its first deployment to the region, and that should be an opportunity for the UK to show its friends and allies in the region, including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, that we are committed to free navigation in international waters and stand with them against any threats of aggression.

I must say something about cuts to the Army. Cyber and AI are very important, but they do not enable us to retake Port Stanley on the Falklands. For some operations you still need quite a few boots on the ground. The tooth-to-tail ratio, or combat-spear element, has been in decline since the First World War. That might result in better logistics, support and care, but the reality is that only about 20% to 25% of our troops do the fighting. With a force of 72,500, that leaves at best 18,000 Armed Forces personnel to do the actual front-line fighting on the ground. That is not enough to take and hold a small town.

Finally, the review overstates Russia’s capabilities and underestimates those of China. It has been a major geostrategic error to encourage Moscow and Beijing to seek an ever-closer union. On Russia, the immediate emphasis now should be on all parties implementing the Minsk agreements and standing down their forces on the borders, which I believe, in Russia’s case, has already begun.

Hong Kong Courts: British Judges

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Monday 22nd March 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Asked by
Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of role of British judges in courts in Hong Kong; and what plans they have to prevent judges from participating in those courts.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, British judges have played an important role in supporting the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary for many years. We want and hope for this to continue. However, the national security law poses real questions for the rule of law in Hong Kong and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms promised by China in the joint declaration. The UK judiciary is of course independent of government and it is for it to make an assessment of the issue. It is right that the Supreme Court continues to assess the situation in Hong Kong in discussion with Her Majesty’s Government.

Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply, but is it not time that Her Majesty’s Government make their position clear on this and take further action? Is it not wrong on many levels that British judges are active in Hong Kong, giving a veneer of respectability to wholly draconian laws which effectively stifle freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and free and fair elections?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con) [V]
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My Lords, let me assure the noble Lord that, as I said in my original Answer, we are working closely with the Supreme Court. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Reed, has already made it clear that he is co-ordinating his response in consultation with the Government. The important assessment to be made is in relation to the issue of judicial independence, as guaranteed by Hong Kong Basic Law, and the rule of law. This is under active consideration by the Supreme Court in consultation with the Government.

Pandemics and Environmental Degradation

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Wednesday 24th February 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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There is no doubt in my mind that every stone needs to be overturned and every avenue explored before we reach firm conclusions—and that has not yet happened. I share many of the concerns raised by the noble Lord. However, in relation to his first point, wildlife markets have, nevertheless, been implicated in numerous outbreaks of zoonotic viral and bacterial infections, including SARS, MERS, avian influenza and swine flu. So that link is established and, irrespective of the broader concerns, it must be explored.

Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Non-Afl) [V]
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My Lords, as the Minister said, it is now accepted that many new diseases have emerged due to environmental degradation and animal populations under severe pressure—not only coronavirus, including SARS, but Zika, AIDS and Ebola. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to meet the goals of the 2021 to 2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and how is destroying 108 ancient woodlands to build HS2 compatible with that?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, the United Kingdom has played a leading role internationally in raising the profile and the importance of tackling nature loss. We co-drafted the unprecedented Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, which has now been signed by 80 countries. We run the Global Ocean Alliance and are co-leading the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, calling for 30% of the world’s land and ocean to be protected by the end of this decade. Through our presidency of the COP we have put nature at the heart of the global response to climate change. I do not think that any country in the world is doing more heavy lifting or more generally to push the need to reverse nature degradation to the very forefront of the global agenda.

Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 4) Regulations 2020

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Monday 8th February 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Ind Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I will raise the sanctions on unauthorised drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, as mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Northbrook and Lord Balfe, and then comment on the UK’s broader sanctions policy.

Turkey’s unauthorised drilling in Greek and Cypriot waters is a cause for concern and it is right that Her Majesty’s Government should align themselves with the EU’s position to give Ankara pause for thought. The EU agreed back in December to condemn Turkey’s aggressiveness and unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean, giving Turkey a three-month grace period for further diplomacy. It agreed to add new names of individuals and companies connected with unauthorised and provocative drilling off Cyprus to a sanctions list involving travel bans and asset freezes.

This is a dangerous, complicated and underreported crisis, not least because both Greece and Turkey are members of NATO, there are two strategically important British sovereign bases on Cyprus, the position of Cyprus and Greece as EU members, and Turkey’s status as a candidate for European Union membership. Ankara also has a pivotal role in restricting the flow of migrants, primarily from Libya and Syria, into the EU.

Turkey’s President Erdoğan unhelpfully reignited tensions with Cyprus last November, calling for a two-state solution for the island, divided since 1974, rather than the federalist solution supported by both the EU and UN. However, I am glad that the EU rejected Athens’ proposal last August at the Berlin foreign affairs meeting for sectoral sanctions targeting aspects of the Turkish economy such as the energy and banking sectors.

Here, I want to turn to the general principle of sanctions. While targeted sanctions against individuals or companies can have the desired effect in support of human rights or to correct serious misbehaviour or provocation, sectoral or country-wide sanctions are often counterproductive or have unintended consequences. President Erdoğan’s purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems is at least in part because of his belief in the West’s complicity in the 2016 coup attempt against him. While the West and the US were silent, Moscow was effusive in its support. The proposed new US sanctions against Ankara for buying the S-400s will merely throw Erdoğan further into Russia’s embrace.

I commend to the Minister the work of the highly-respected US Brookings Institution on the impact and effectiveness of sanctions. In one of its reports, it said that

“all too often sanctions turn out to be little more than expressions of U.S. preferences … without changing the target’s behavior for the better.”

It points to sanctions’ patchy results, which, as I mentioned, can lead to unintended consequences. The report further outlined:

“More generally, sanctions can have the perverse effect of bolstering authoritarian, statist societies.”


Making the population at large suffer can lead just to the propping up of a regime and a bunker mentality. On the other hand, targeted sanctions against individuals, companies or types of equipment or technology can have a real impact. Finally, the Brookings Institution states:

“Sanctions should not be used to hold major or complex bilateral relationships hostage to a single issue or set of concerns.”


Will the Minister admit that this is why HMG have imposed sanctions on Guinea for the indefensible death of 150 people in 2009 but have held back on sanctions against China for the alleged enslavement and internment of hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, and the noble Lord, Lord Dodds?

We have just had a brief discussion about the effectiveness of sanctions, as raised by the noble Lords, Lord Empey and Lord Balfe, but can HMG have consistency in its sanctions policy? None of the 40 countries sanctioned is a friend. We have sanctioned Nicaragua for human rights abuses but not Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or Panama, which are arguably as bad if not worse. Having read through the 555-page UK sanctions list, I could not identify a single individual from the Middle East outside Syria, Iraq or Iran condemned for any human rights abuses. James Cleverly, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the other place on 3 February:

“Our sanctions regime is the foundation for an independent sanctions policy in support of our foreign policy and national security interests”.—[Official Report, Commons, 3/2/21; col. 976.]


Yet sanctions should be the last resort of diplomacy, not the first resort that they have often become; nor should we end up using sanctions to impose our British world view rather than to uphold universal values such as human rights and the right to life itself.

The UK’s Relationship with the Pacific Alliance (International Relations Committee Report)

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Monday 1st February 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Ind Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I too welcome this excellent and, ultimately, timely report. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, and the International Relations Committee for securing the debate, although I share the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that it has been unduly delayed. We have neglected this part of the world for too long, as many noble Lords have said, and in the post-Brexit world cannot afford to do so any longer.

The committee is right to call for increased UK engagement with the countries of the Pacific Alliance. As its report points out, these countries broadly share our democratic values and aspirations for a rules-based international order and to tackle climate change, although I note the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, regarding Colombia. As the report points out, the alliance has bucked the trade of the increasing populism and protectionist policies seen elsewhere, the latest example being the vaccine nationalism and export controls so disgracefully promoted by the European Commission.

As we have already heard, this is a growing market, representing together the seventh-largest economy in the world. The four Pacific Alliance countries account for 38% of the total GDP of the Caribbean and Latin America, 45% of the region’s foreign direct investment and 50% of the region’s trade. The UK has for too long largely ignored the region politically and economically, with French, Spanish, German and Italian businesses doing much better than British ones, as has been noted. As a body, the EU has committed to deepening its partnership with the alliance, but UK bilateral relations with Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru remain weak. Since last October, when the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter, stood down, the UK has not even had a trade envoy to Mexico, as was mentioned earlier.

In their response to the committee’s report, Her Majesty’s Government disputed the lack of a coherent strategy for Latin America. The committee called for a coherent, well thought out approach to Latin America as a whole, and its regional and subregional organisations. If there is one, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is keeping it a closely guarded secret that it did not share with the committee. It remains a mystery how the FCDO, the Department for International Trade, ambassadors, the trade commissioner and trade envoys define and co-ordinate their regional roles. I strongly suspect that, currently, they do not.

Nor is it clear how any strategy towards the Pacific Alliance fits in with the UK’s strategy in working with Mercosur, our opening of negotiations with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or a broader Indo-Pacific strategy reflecting our commitment to a revived role east of Suez for our soft and hard power. Post Brexit, global Britain remains a vague aspiration rather than a fleshed-out strategy. I hope the long-delayed integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy will answer some, if not all, of those questions.

Finally, I have one question for the Minister. There have been reports that Latin American countries are severely short of Covid-19 vaccines. As a sign of good will and humanity, will Her Majesty’s Government pledge to make some of our future surplus vaccine supplies available to the countries of the Pacific Alliance and other countries in the region?

Baroness Garden of Frognal Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Garden of Frognal) (LD)
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The noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, has withdrawn, so I call Lord Grocott.

Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Tuesday 3rd November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I have already alluded to our commitment to 0.7%, which is enshrined in law. The noble Baroness is of course right to raise COP 26; I assure her that Ministers across government are working to ensure that we deliver on its priorities and ambitions.

Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, there has been much talk of global Britain post Brexit. Can the Minister define what that means? Secondly, can he tell your Lordships’ House what values and principles underpin the integrated review?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, in a few seconds, global Britain means our place in the world, whether through multilateral institutions such as the UN, through the Commonwealth or, indeed, through our bilateral relationships. The UK has strong influence and strong partnerships, and we will strengthen those partnerships and friendships going forward. On our overall positioning, I am very optimistic about the outlook for the UK in the global world. The results of the FCDO merger demonstrate why.

Hong Kong: Political Situation

Lord Truscott Excerpts
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, we have already announced how that route will operate. As I previously said, around 2.9 million people currently in Hong Kong qualify for BNO status and will be allowed to apply for the scheme.

Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, how can Her Majesty’s Government credibly condemn China for reneging on the Sino-British declaration, when they threaten to renege on the EU withdrawal agreement?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I am proud that Her Majesty’s Government have stood up and will continue to stand up for the rights of all citizens around the world who are subjected to persecution and human rights abuses. We have a special responsibility to Hong Kong and we continue to raise the broader issue of the abuse of human rights in China. The United Kingdom continues to defend and stand up for international law and the international rules-based system.

Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime

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Wednesday 8th July 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, in the interests of time I will write to my noble friend on the specifics, but I can assure him that there is co-ordination. We are working with international partners to ensure that the sanctions which are imposed in the UK are reflected by key partners, be they the Five Eyes or other EU partners.

Lord Truscott Portrait Lord Truscott (Ind Lab) [V]
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My Lords, my question on co-ordination with partners has been quite comprehensively answered by the Minister, so I shall move on to the second part of my question. What criteria are being applied before these sanctions are imposed? Are Her Majesty’s Government seeking to punish individuals or to achieve policy change?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, the regime is specifically about individuals. It is not taking issue with a country necessarily or the people of that country. This is looking at entities and individuals who commit abuses of global human rights. Specifically within the scope of the application, this means issues that we have talked about before, such as modern slavery, human trafficking, preventing sexual violence and freedom of religion. The consideration of these targets has been published as an information note and I commend it to the noble Lord.