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Delegation of Canadian MPs visits Taiwan in move that incenses China

Click to play video: 'Canadian delegation arrives in Taiwan despite Beijing’s warnings'
Canadian delegation arrives in Taiwan despite Beijing’s warnings
WATCH: Canadian delegation arrives in Taiwan despite Beijing's warnings – Oct 11, 2022

A group of Canadian members of Parliament are in Taiwan, a move China claims “blatantly violates the one-China principle” and “grossly interferes” with Beijing’s internal affairs.

Liberal MP Judy Sgro, who had hinted at a potential visit two months ago, tweeted out images of her visit Thursday morning.

“Canada is committed to expanding and diversifying trade, attracting global investment and creating new opportunities,” she wrote alongside images of her meeting with the Taiwan premier.

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According to the Taiwanese government’s statement about the visit, Liberal MP Angelo Iacono joined Sgro, as well as Bloc Quebecois MP Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay and Conservative MPs Richard Martel and Chris Lewis.

The release also said Sgro led the delegation in her capacity as chair of the Taiwan-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group and chair of the international trade committee.

Global News has reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office asking for comment on the trip.

“I…want to take this opportunity to thank Canada for supporting Taiwan and recognizing its importance,” said Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in a statement.

“The Canadian government has also spoken up for Taiwan in the global arena and backed Taiwan’s international participation. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I express our sincerest appreciation for this support.”

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Read more: Will Canadian MPs visit Taiwan? ‘Significant reflections’ going on: Trudeau

No NDP MPs were part of the delegation, which the party said in a statement was “due to other responsibilities.”

“We will be working with members of the Canada China Committee to propose potential future opportunities to visit Taiwan as part of a larger visit to the Indo-Pacific region,” NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said in the statement.

“New Democrats will always condemn any act of aggression demonstrated by the Chinese government toward Taiwan and the Taiwanese people.”

China claims Taiwan as its territory and views the island as a rogue province. As a result, Beijing officials consistently object to foreign politicians visiting the island or taking any steps it perceives as fuelling independence sentiments.

However, the democratically elected government of Taiwan rejects China’s claims.

“Despite China’s stern position, Judy A. Sgro and 4 other Canadian parliament members persist in visiting the Taiwan region of China, which blatantly violates the one-China principle, grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs and sends a seriously wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces,” wrote the Chinese embassy in a statement sent to Global News.

“China firmly opposes this and have made solemn representation to the Canada side.”

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In the statement, Chinese officials warned that China will “continue to take resolute and strong measures to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose the interference by external forces in China’s internal affairs.”

Click to play video: 'China ‘firmly opposes’ U.S. lawmakers’ latest visit to Taiwan'
China ‘firmly opposes’ U.S. lawmakers’ latest visit to Taiwan

The Canadian MPs’ visit comes less than two months after a high-profile visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan incensed China in August.

Questions began circulating at that time about Canada’s MPs potentially planning a trip to the island — even as China deployed an aggressive response to Pelosi’s visit. In response to her mid-August appearance in Taiwan, China launches ballistic missiles and staged blockades of the island.

Pelosi, meanwhile, vowed China would not be allowed to “isolate” Taiwan.

When pressed on the possibility of Canadian MPs visiting the region, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said amid Pelosi’s trip that it’s “important to understand that parliamentarians have a really important role to do.”

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“There are significant reflections going on right now. Canada has a longstanding position around China and Taiwan that we will ensure to respect,” he said.

Trudeau added that China’s belligerence in response to Pelosi’s visit was “troubling.”

“We will ensure that parliamentarians making the decision to travel or not will be done with all the reflections of the consequences and impacts of it.”

Read more: Canada says lawmakers’ Taiwan trip not a pretext for aggression as China vows response

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly had previously warned China that it must not use visits to Taiwan as a pretext for military or economic aggression.

Speaking in late August, Joly’s spokesperson Adrien Blanchard said parliamentary associations and friendship groups make travel decisions independently and the Canadian government respects that.

“As we have said before, the travel of parliamentarians should not be used as a pretext for escalation or aggressive military and economic actions,” Blanchard said at the time.

— with files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly and Sean Boynton

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