TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in London received a “special invite” to sign the book of condolence for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the island’s foreign ministry said, adding he was given the same treatment as other dignitaries.
Britain, like most countries, has no diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan though they have close unofficial ones. Democratically governed Taiwan is largely excluded from most international events and bodies due to Beijing’s objections.
In a statement on Sunday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said its representative in London, Kelly Hsieh, was “specially invited” by the British government to sign the condolence book at Lancaster House, which is run by the country’s foreign office.
The invitation came “based on the importance attached to Taiwan-Britain relations and the precious friendship between the two peoples”, it added.
The ministry noted Hsieh “enjoyed the same treatment as the heads of state, representatives and members of the royal family of other countries who have gone to Britain to mourn”.
China is sending Vice President Wang nL1N30O01G Qishan to Monday’s state funeral in London, but some parliamentarians have raised concerns about inviting representatives from China after several British lawmakers were sanctioned by Beijing for criticising alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China denies any such abuses.
Taiwan’s government was quick to send its condolences after the queen’s death, and Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Thursday visited Britain’s de facto embassy in Taipei to sign its public condolence book.
Taiwan’s representative office in Britain last week posted a picture on its Facebook page of Queen Elizabeth receiving a Taiwanese orchid named after her at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011.
Taiwan has not said whether it will be allowed to send anyone to the state funeral, which a host of world leaders are attending including U.S. President Joe Biden.
Britain is inviting a representative from North Korea nL8N30L3SU to attend the funeral, but Afghanistan, Syria and Venezuela will not be given an invitation, a foreign office source said on Wednesday.
Russia, Myanmar and Belarus have also not been asked to attend.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by William Mallard)