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Taiwan: democracy in danger

Does Taiwan face an increased threat from its larger neighbour China, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?  

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Jaushieh Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, joins host Tom Tugendhat MP to discuss the dangers to democracy in Taiwan, how the situation has changed since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the potential global economic impacts of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.  

In the second part of the episode, fellow parliamentarians Darren Jones MP, the Labour MP for Bristol North West and Chair of the House of Commons Business Committee, and Lord Stirrup, former Chief of the Defence Staff, cross-bench Member of the House of Lords and member of the Lords’ International Relations and Defence Committee, join host Tom Tugendhat MP to consider the implications for the UK and wider world. 

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Transcript

Tom Tugendhat: Welcome to Committee Corridor where we step away from the crowded green benches of the House of Commons chamber, and head upstairs to the committee rooms.  Here, Members of Parliament work across the political divide to make recommendations to the government of the day, on the key issues that we find. 

These might be stories leading the news. Perhaps policy's ripe for change, or sometimes holding the government to account for errors they might've made. They matter to us. I hope they matter to you. I'm Tom Tugendhat. I chair the Foreign Affairs Committee and you're listening to Committee Corridor, where we hear from people at the heart of our inquiries and demonstrate how select committees can influence the arguments and the outcomes of some of the biggest topics today. 

In our first episode, we heard about the realisation of a threat posed by a large country against the smaller neighbour whose independence they didn't acknowledge. Now, of course we weren't talking about Taiwan then. We were talking about Russia against Ukraine. Today however, we are talking about Taiwan and the threat posed to it by mainland China and why that matters to us here in Britain and to the wider world. 

With only 24 million people  - that's about a third the number here in the United Kingdom -  Taiwan is already an important economy. It makes some of the highest end computer chips and of course the equipment that powers our phones, our laptops, our cars, and even sometimes kettles and fridges. Most distinctly, Taiwan as a Chinese-speaking state, is a vibrant democracy. 

Now that is unusual, but it makes it only more important. Last year, the UK Government set out its position in its UK policy paper, the Integrated Review.  In that, it made the case for the tilt to the Indo-Pacific. Now that means closer relations with the countries in the region on trade, on the economy and of course, on security.  And on the Foreign Affairs Committee, we're looking at what that policy shift might mean for us here in the United Kingdom. 

Both China and Taiwan are important trading partners to us. And any conflict between the two would affect not just us, but the whole of Europe. In fact, the whole of the world.   

In a minute, we're going to hear from two parliamentarians who have looked at these issues from an economic and military security perspective. 

The first is Lord Stirrup, former Chief of the Defence Staff. In fact, the Chief of the Defence Staff when I was still serving, who is now a crossbench Peer. He sits on the International Relations and Defence Committee in the House of Lords. And second, my friend and colleague Darren Jones, a Labour MP who chairs the House of Commons Business Select Committee. 

But first I wanted to speak to my friend Joseph Wu, Foreign Minister of the Republic of China or as it's more commonly known, Taiwan. 

Tom Tugendhat: Well, I'm very pleased to have with me my friend, Joseph Wu, Foreign Minister of the Republic of China, or as we know it, Taiwan. How does the invasion of Ukraine affect what you think of as the threat from China? Might it make President Xi think twice about potential military action? 

After all, the Russians have been pinned down very effectively by Ukrainian armed forces and Taiwan is an island and a mountainous island that could have a much stronger hand in any defence already.  

Minister Wu: This is a very good question. In fact, this is a question that the people here have been asking ourselves. 

And I also understand that many of our friends around the world are also asking the same question. They care about Taiwan. They are considering the possibility that China might launch a war against Taiwan as well. What we see is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Unprovoked. And this is a situation that is totally intolerable. 

And therefore for the Taiwanese people, we need to join the international community, like the UK, the United States et cetera to condemn the Russian action and also to apply sanctions against Russia. We want to make sure that no Taiwanese products are made into Russian weapons. And other than that we are also trying to help the Ukrainians, especially those refugees dispersed into the neighbouring countries. 

And another thing that we have been looking very hard at is how the Ukrainians defend their territory. Defend their country. And since Taiwan might also be attacked by China, and therefore it's not just the Taiwanese government, but also the people in general, looking at the war situation in Ukraine to see what we can learn from it. 

And the Ukrainians’ very brave actions in defending their homeland is something that we are learning from. And this is the first lesson. We are asking ourselves to see whether we have that same determination to defend our country. And I think the answer is yes, and the people here in Taiwan are more determined to defend ourselves against any kind of invasion from China or from any other country. 

And furthermore, we are also looking at the tactics of the Ukrainian people in fighting against the Russians.  And they employed asymmetric warfare and that seemed to be very effective. And therefore we are also asking ourselves whether we are ready to fight a war that is going to be asymmetrical. 

And we are also discussing how we can align more with like-minded countries to seek more support when there's going to be a crisis. And this is what we have been learning.  

Tom Tugendhat: It's quite noticeable actually, when you look around the world who has been supporting Ukraine and the connections that this obviously puts towards Taiwan.. Countries like Japan and South Korea.  Countries, which are not traditionally very critical about actions in the European neighbourhood have joined in the sanctions very actively. Do you think this points to a growing understanding of the threat of border changes by force around the world? Do you think this points to a greater understanding of Taiwan's position? 

Minister Wu: Yes. What happened in Ukraine is an authoritarian country that claimed its historical glory and they want to take over another country right next to it. And this might happen to the Indo-Pacific as well. And we want to be able to defend ourselves if another authoritarian country, which is China, wants to cross this border to attack another country. 

And there's the real possibility if you look at the Chinese actions in the East China Sea. They have been sending their fleet to the disputed area or the areas claimed by Japan and Taiwan almost on a daily basis. And that provoked a very sharp reaction from our Japanese friends. And if you look at the Chinese actions in the  South China Sea, that is also appalling, they claim the whole area.  

They claim the whole body of water as their own territory, and they have been sending their ships or their aeroplanes to patrol the area as if they own the place. And their claim over Taiwan is also something that is very similar to the Russian claim of Ukraine or other parts of Eastern Europe. And this is something that we need to watch out for very carefully and we should not let what happened in Ukraine happen  anywhere in other places in the world.  

 Tom Tugendhat: Now it's quite noticeable that there's been a bit of a change of tone in the United States, at least from the mouth of the President.  While the Administration keeps saying nothing's changed, President Biden has made several times now,comments that are much more supportive of Taiwan and seem to offer promises to assist in the defence of Taiwan, that are clearer or appear stronger than many of his predecessors. What do you make of his comments and do you think this ends the longstanding position of strategic ambiguity, in the defence of Taiwan.  

Minister Wu: We try not to jump into the U.S domestic debate. What is useful for us to know is that the United States is highly committed to the security of Taiwan. And what we know about is that the United States abides by the Taiwan Relations Act and seeks assurances, and they want to provide the necessary support for Taiwan to be able to defend itself. 

And that is set out in the Taiwan Relations Act and in this regard, we have been interacting very closely with the United States, to make sure that what Taiwan needs for self-defence is being provided by the United States. And we also engage in a very critical way so that the United States can provide us with knowledge, training, services, for Taiwan to be able to defend itself. 

In this regard, I will say that the United States is committed to the status quo of the Taiwan Strait. And that is the same policy of the Taiwanese government. We have not been ruled by China and Taiwan is a democracy. And this is the status quo across the Taiwan Strait for a long, long time. The reality that we want to safeguard. We don't want Taiwan's democracy to be tarnished by the People's Republic of China. 

Tom Tugendhat: It's interesting. You talk about the support you're getting from the United States to maintain, as you rightly put it, the status quo. Where do you see the UK and other countries contributing because the UK doesn't actually have defence links with Taiwan at the moment. Would you like this to change? 

Would you like to see defensive weapons, procurement training, joint exercises. Do you think these things would benefit Taiwan? Do you think these things would benefit the United Kingdom?  

Minister Wu: Yes it would but let me talk in more detail on how the UK has been paying attention to the Indo-Pacific already. For example, you have Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has been saying publicly about the situation in Xinjiang and also about the security of the Taiwan Strait and the recent revelation about the Xinjiang  human rights violation. She said  “the UK stands with our international partners, in calling out China's appalling persecution of Uighur Muslims and other minorities. We remain committed to holding China to account”. On Taiwan security, she said “we need to preempt threats in the Indo-Pacific working with our allies like Japan and Australia to ensure the Pacific is protected. And we must ensure that democracies like Taiwan are able to defend themselves.”  

In the last couple of years, we see that the UK has been paying more and more attention to the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. I believe that you had an integrated policy review with an Indo-Pacific tilt last year and ever since then, the UK has been sending very strong signals, to say that there's an interest to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. The UK even sent aircraft carrier battle groups to this region to demonstrate the UK’s determination to uphold peace and stability in the region. And I think this is the right attitude and the interactions between Taiwan and the UK Government have also been much closer than before. 

And we would like to take on this trend to improve our relations further, to make sure that the UK is providing the necessary support for Taiwan.  I would say that the UK has been providing necessary support for Taiwan already. In terms of the material support for Taiwan, that would also be highly appreciated. But in defending Taiwan, I would like to point out that self-defence is our own responsibility and we would like to defend ourselves and we are determined to do that. 

And if the UK is going to provide us with the necessary support, that would be highly appreciated.   

Tom Tugendhat: We're seeing great changes at the moment where Chinese involvement in places like the Solomon Islands is growing and the pressure on the countries that support Taiwan is increasing. 

How do you see  Australia, the UK and the United States’ involvement in the South Pacific, alongside other countries who've been helpful in the past like Japan?  

Minister Wu: Well, I think all these like-minded countries are paying attention to the peace and stability, not only in the Taiwan Strait, but also in a wider Pacific area.  For the United States, the UK and Australia to work together under AUKUS  is a great thing. 

Because all these they're strong alliances, they are paying attention to the peace and stability in the Pacific. And by working further with each other, I believe AUKUS is going to provide a very strong force to ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains free and open. And if you look at what's happening recently, that is something that we really pay attention to. 

You mentioned the Solomon Islands. Indeed the security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands is something that would alarm us. And after all the Solomon Islands is only about 2000 miles away from Australia. And the way I describe it is that it's right at the doorstep of our great friend Australia, and therefore we need to see the motivation of the Chinese government. 

My way of understanding is that the Chinese government is having ambition far beyond the first island chainl, far beyond the Solomon Islands. Look at its foreign minister, Wang Yi’s tour to the Pacific islands. Eight islands altogether. And the purpose of it is to sign  security agreements with all these countries and these kinds of ambition, demonstrated by Wang Yi’s tour to the Pacific, is something that we need to worry about. And AUKUS happens to be an instrument or platform that can counter the expansion of authoritarianism. 

Tom Tugendhat: Well, thank you very much for talking about AUKUS like that. I think it's a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom for the two partners, of course, but actually for the wider region. But it needs to be more than a club for nuclear boats, for Australia. It needs to bring in others. And I wonder whether you see areas in which we could share technology as well, because of course Taiwan's position is not just strategic in the sense that the independence of the island is key to  the liberty of many other countries in the region. 

But of course, through your semiconductor technology, through so many of the products that you manufacture, you're actually in many ways, the keystone economy of a global economy. So this is a real challenge for all of us to make sure that your independence is maintained. Do you think that there's an opportunity for a UK Taiwan economic agreement that could see that situation prosper? 

Do you think it could be done with others too?  

Minister Wu: Yes. We hope there can be further discussions on our bilateral  investment agreement, or even beyond this  bilateral  investment agreement. After all, the UK is a great trading partner of Taiwan. And if you look at the economics trends of Taiwan it is something that maybe not many people around the world understand, but it is something that I hope that the British people can understand.  The semiconductor is just one. 

If you look at ICT products, Taiwan is a very significant, significant player. And other than that,  in biotechnology, Taiwan is also a very significant player.  And in terms of semiconductors, Taiwan has been producing around 90%, or a little bit more, of the high-end semiconductor chips. 

And if Taiwan is attacked or Taiwan is taken over by an authoritarian country, you can fully understand the kind of impact it is going to have on the rest of the world. Let's flash back to the war in Ukraine. The Russians’ attack against Ukraine has now created an international economic slowdown and also possible food crisis and also energy shortages. 

And if Taiwan is attacked by China, I'm sure the economic impact on the rest of the world is going to be much more significant. And if you take into the consideration Taiwan being a democracy, standing on the front line, I think that is going to hit our belief system,  it’s going to hit our values. We believe in freedom. 

We believe in democracy. But what China has been doing is trying to expand its authoritarian force into the wider region, and they want to change our mentality. They want to change our cognitive system, to shape the international community to its own belief system. And this is something that we must stop. If you look at what they have done to Xinjiang we may not have a chance to stop them. 

Look at what they have done to Hong Kong. And it's already too late for us and we should not let China do something similar to Taiwan. And Taiwan has the determination to defend ourselves. Not because it's our territory, it's our homeland, it's our people and it's our democratic way of life. We also understand our responsibility. We need to be able to defend ourselves because the rest of the democracies are also looking at us.  

Tom Tugendhat: You raise hugely important questions there. And just, if I may, with one last question, broaden this out to the wider world. There are countries, as you know, around the world that have been extremely supportive of Taiwan's position and there are others which have, as you correctly identified, being bullied into changing it. 

One of those countries is Somaliland. Now it demonstrates, I think an interesting element, that the independence that you seek, or rather the autonomy that you seek is something that has become an example for many other states. Do you see that there's more that the UK can do to assist with the partnership of development that Taiwan has demonstrated? 

And do you think that this is something we could use to reverse what has now become quite clear as a rather negative form of debt trap that we see from the Chinese Communist Party's policies in global affairs?  

Minister Wu: I think this is a very important question and it's an important question, not just for Taiwan, but for many other parts of the world. 

If you look at the debt trap, it's a problem for many countries. Look at the situation in Sri Lanka. Now the country is on the brink of collapse and China is trying to provide assistance in the name of assistance to other countries in the name of the Belt and Road Initiative. And that put many countries in serious debt. 

And that is something that the UK or EU, or the United States and Japan et cetera, need to work together to counter the malign influence of the Chinese government. And I think you are very right that we need to watch out how that authoritarian country is using its influence worldwide. Other than a debt trap or a debt trap diplomacy they are also weaponizing their trade.  

You know, I spoke about Taiwan, the East China Sea, South China Sea, and the wider Pacific. Maybe the Europeans may not feel it very strongly, but the Chinese influence may come closer and closer to Europe. Look at Lithuania. China just uses its trade as a weapon against Lithuania, just because Lithuania wanted to have representative office relations with Taiwan. 

And think about the future. If China is able to divide and conquer each one of our democracies, then it's going to hit home very hard some time in the future. And I think what we need to do is for the democracies to work together. To support each other to counter the bad influences of Chinese authoritarianism.  

Tom Tugendhat: You very wonderfully brought in our joint friend,Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, who I know speaks very highly of you. 

And I know you're full of praise for him. So it's a lovely way to end. My friend Joseph Wu, it's lovely to speak to you. Foreign minister, thank you very much for joining us on Committee Corridor.  

Minister Wu: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman for inviting me to speak. 

Tom Tugendhat: In a minute, we're going to hear from two parliamentarians who have looked at these issues from an economic and military security perspective. The first is Lord Stirrup, former Chief of the Defence Staff who is now a crossbench peer, and sits on the International Relations and Defence Committee in the House of Lords.  Secondly, Darren Jones, who chairs the Business Committee. 

He's also Labour MP and sits for Bristol North West. 

Lord Stirrup, what do you think the UK’s objectives should be in its relationship with Taiwan and how should we balance these with our relationship with China.  

Lord Stirrup: Well, I think that the first objective that the UK should have is to ensure that, while maintaining the status quo between Taiwan and China, we do not actually let the situation degenerate into a full-blown international conflict because of course that will be disastrous for all concerned. 

But one of the best ways of ensuring that is to enable Taiwan to defend itself effectively enough. So that China - the People's Republic of China - recognizes that the cost of any military conflict with Taiwan will be far beyond anything that it is prepared to bear. Now of course, that leaves a whole lot of questions unanswered, but that I think should be the overall strategic objective. 

Tom Tugendhat: Darren, you've clearly been looking at Taiwan as a business centre, as well as a strategic partner. How do you see the balance between China's importance to the UK and Taiwan's essential supply of semiconductors amongst other things to the UK market?  

Darren Jones: The Taiwan-UK relationship for imports and exports is very significant. 

And as you've just  mentioned in your question, Tom, semiconductors is one of those critical supply chains for a whole host of industries in the UK.  Whether it's cars or even hair dryers and washing machines, lots of kit has semiconductors in them and Taiwan along with South Korea now basically produce all of the world's supply of the most complex silicon microprocessors, which is a type of semiconductor. And so maintaining those supply chains is crucial. We've had some problems already this year, which is starting to have an impact on British manufacturing.  

Tom Tugendhat: We heard earlier from Foreign Minister Wu about the parallel between Ukraine and Taiwan in terms of defence and how they're studying the tactics and the implications of an invasion.  

I wonder, Lord Stirrup, whether you've been seeing similar parallels and despite the hundred miles of sea separating Taiwan from mainland China, whether you've seen any parallels for the lessons that Taiwan should be learning on its defence against a larger and more threatening neighbour.  

Lord Stirrup: Well there are some parallels, but there are also some significant differences. 

So I think the Taiwanese need to be careful not to prepare to fight the last war. That's always one of the great dangers in such a situation. Two key differences of course, are that stretch of water separating it from the mainland: that is a significant difference in the tactical terrain, if you like. 

But the other is the length of supply chains between Taiwan and the rest of the world and the countries that might support it. In Ukraine, the crucial factor has been the supply of weapons and munitions and indeed training, to the Ukraine armed forces. That of course would be  rather more problematic in the event of a conflict between the PRC and Taiwan.  

On the other hand, crossing that stretch of water and mounting an amphibious operation is a substantial military challenge, quite different from the ones that Russia has faced in the Ukraine.  

So I think the key lesson for everyone to draw, and particularly for China to draw, is that entering into a conflict of this kind is a very uncertain venture. Nothing is for sure and that no plan survives first contact with the enemy and therefore it would be a very, very risky undertaking.  

Tom Tugendhat: You have clearly been at the heart of our defence relationships for many, many years. 

Do you think that the UK should be doing more to supply weapons to Taiwan to make sure that it deters and doesn't just have to wait for resupply?  

Lord Stirrup: Well, I would like the UK and other countries to be able to do more, but we have a fundamental problem to address ourselves first. And that is the industrial capacity necessary to produce the weapons, not just supply Taiwan, not just supply Ukraine, not just to refill our own stockpiles, but to bring those stockpiles up to where they really need to be, which is much higher than they have been in the recent past. 

One of the key lessons from Ukraine for all sides to learn or to relearn perhaps would be a better way of putting it, is the ferocious rate of consumption of munitions in a high intensity warfare.  

Tom Tugendhat: Well, of course the shell shortage in 1914 was the first major lesson in that, but it seems that the Ukrainians are teaching us again, the NLAW problem. 

Lord Stirrup: Yes, but of course it's much harder today because you can turn out shells quite quickly, but complex modern weapons take a long time to produce. They take a lot of industrial capacity and of course they rely upon a lot of high technology components, some of which flow in the opposite direction.  

Tom Tugendhat: Well that's exactly what I was going to come because of course we are very dependent on the semiconductor industry in Taiwan and Darren, you've been looking at how the global shortage of microchip chips has been affecting the UK. 

How important is the Taiwan semiconductor industry to the global economy and indeed, how important is it to Britain's defence?  

Darren Jones:  Well, it's crucial given Taiwan has pretty much most of the world's capacity for the production of semiconductors. We do well in the UK in terms of designing semiconductor technologies and looking at kind of research and development and our university partners. 

But we don't have the capacity in the UK to produce the kit in the way that companies in Taiwan do. Indeed this is a problem for the European Union, as well as for the United States and the Commission and the Federal Government, as well as ours are all looking at their supply chains because of concerns around that. 

But we're already starting to see an impact on key sectors. I mean, there’ve been a 100 000 fewer cars made in the UK, for example, in the past year, which the relevant trade body, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, has put down to the suppliers’ chips that go into, you know, our clever cars that we produce these days, and we've seen it in lots of other sectors as well. 

So it's absolutely crucial that we're able to continue to keep that supply of semiconductors coming out of Taiwan. Otherwise it has a direct impact on our manufacturing capability in the UK, both for export, but also for our own defence technologies, which is crucial, not just to the UK, but to our NATO partners. 

Tom Tugendhat: Well this really feeds into what Minister Wu was telling us earlier, which is that the impact of an attack by China on Taiwan would have a much more significant economic result than Russia's invasion of Ukraine. What might conflict there or Chinese control of that industry mean for the UK’s economy? 

Darren Jones: Well, clearly if China were to control the export of semiconductors from Taiwan, they could put very significant restrictions on the number that are exported, which would halt our ability to be able to manufacture some of the most advanced bits of kit that we need, whether it's for civilian or defence purposes. 

So it's really a strategic risk for the world, but also for NATO, if we don't have that capacity either by ensuring that Taiwan is able to continue to supply into our relevant defence and civilian companies but also making sure that we have resilience within the EU, the UK, the US and other countries to be able to make the kit if we need to do so ourselves locally. 

Tom Tugendhat: You talk there about resilience. Of course, one of the key areas of resilience is working with partners in the region to defend ourselves. You'll have seen in recent years, the development of the AUKUS deal, the Australia, UK, US deal, which is really at this stage, mostly about Australian nuclear power submarines, but have suggestions of a greater core level of cooperation. We've seen talk of the Quad, the Five Powers Defence Agreement, and even the the Five Eyes Alliance growing. Do you see the US as fully committed to the defence of Taiwan? Certainly President Biden has been making statements in that direction, but then had his staff reiterating that actually the position in Taiwan hasn't changed. 

What do you see is going on there?  

Lord Stirrup: One could argue that this adds very nicely to their long standing strategy of strategic ambiguity. So I think the situation is still ambiguous.  With regard to AUKUS I think this is a very important development because if you look at the situation more widely, China is bent on reshaping the international order to suit itself. 

It's happy to live in a rules-based order, but it wants the rules made by China. They of course would be inimical to our interests and therefore we have to fight against that. We have to ensure that China's attempt to rewrite the international order is met vigorously and successfully. 

And to do that, we need to muster the degree of international cooperation that will be able to field sufficient economic, technological, and military strength to counter that of China. So those kinds of relationships, those kinds of partnerships are absolutely crucial. It's not just AUKUS, it has to be done much more widely. 

And I think what has happened in the Solomon Islands is a very worrying indicator of things going in the wrong direction and we need to reverse that.  

Tom Tugendhat: Well, your reference to the Solomon Islands picks up very strongly on a point that a foreign minister Wu was making earlier. So I'm very grateful for you mentioning it. 

It certainly indicates the understanding that the Chinese state has had for many, many years, that small countries that vote in UN elections actually have a disproportionate amount of leverage on international affairs.  Certainly the Solomon Islands, as you know, as part of that outer island chain has been an important strategic landing point for Australia for many, many years, and therefore part of our defensive network. 

But perhaps I can turn to you Darren and ask, what is the best response? Should the UK, should the West look to become more self resilient?  Do you think it's possible? What can we actually reshore?  Lord Stirrup was talking about making sure we increase stockpiles of the weapons that we sadly might need. 

Is that an opportunity to actually have an industrial strategy that reshores not just the weapons, but actually the technology behind them.  

Darren Jones: Well, if you look at what's happening today on industrial collaboration between allies, its either non-existent or wholly inadequate.  The UK is currently in ongoing arguments with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which essentially means that everything else is on hold, whether it's related to these types of issues or energy security. 

Our relationship with the United States is not strong enough on industrial collaboration, where there is a national security overlap and beyond pure defence procurement, AUKUS or other multilateral relationships, are not currently looking at the need for closer industrial collaboration on these issues based for defence purposes, but also as a secure part of our economic development in the years ahead.  

So something has to happen on this urgently. Our inquiry on the Business Committee will be looking at what is happening between the EU, the UK and the United States, because the European Union’s announced a significant amount of funding for semiconductor capacity in the EU, likewise in the US and the UK Government is looking at it. But if we in the UK think we're going to be able to reshore an end to end production capacity from design to manufacture to installation for semiconductors, then we don't really understand what's happening. [It’s] very, very unlikely that the UK will be able to do that.  

Tom Tugendhat: And just as the last question, Darren, we should also be surely looking at our own companies and their ability to survive. I mean, certainly you and I have raised the question on Newport Wafer Fab in the past.  

How do you see the implementation of the National Security and Investment Act going forward, because protecting British industry in order to maintain resilience is surely an essential element to maintaining our defence?  

Darren Jones: Yes, which is presumably why the government has legislated to update their powers.  

And in many ways, actually this is the first example of an alignment from a regulatory perspective between the UK and the United States, the United States have a similar framework called CFIUS. But to answer your question directly, we don't know yet how British ministers are going to use that legislation, which is quite broadly drafted, but ultimately comes down to whatever the Business Secretary at any given time thinks about a particular scenario. Newport Wafer Fab in many ways is an early symbolic test case as to how ministers will intervene or not, and how they balance national security with inward investment. 

It's an important test case. Colleagues in the United States have raised this issue directly with President Biden and with the UK Government. And we're going to figure out over the next weeks or months how it's going to work in practice.   

Tom Tugendhat: Well, they’ve raised it directly with me as well. I was wondering Lord Stirrup, is your military net as well alive to this?   

Lord Stirrup: Yes. I mean, I've been listening very carefully to what Darren said, and I agree with him. We can't possibly onshore everything that we need to do but one of the key lessons of Ukraine is that we need a much greater degree of national resilience and providing that is going to be extraordinarily difficult. 

So you've talked about Newport Wafer Fab and I agree with that, but my question is really do we have a national strategy for national resilience or are we approaching it piecemeal? Because if it's the latter, then we're very unlikely to be successful.   

Tom Tugendhat: Lord Stirrup there you're raising a very important question and one that goes beyond our conversation on Taiwan, but certainly builds on it. 

So I think I'll throw that over to Darren for his next report. And at that point say Lord Stirrup, thank you very much indeed. Darren, thank you very much for being with us.  

Thank you for joining us on this podcast. I am Tom Tugendhat, I chair the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. And you have been listening to Committee Corridor. 

Now, next time, I'll be speaking with Oliver Bullough, an investigative journalist and author who has written extensively on financial crime and how London has become a favoured place for Russian oligarchs to launder their money. Now we'll be discussing how this has been allowed to happen and what can be done to stop it. 

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