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Conservative MP for Wellington-Halton Hills Michael Chong will be part of a delegation of MPs visiting Taiwan in April.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

A delegation of MPs will visit Taiwan in April to meet with lawmakers on the self-ruled island claimed by China, a gesture of solidarity with a territory under threat from Beijing as Canada itself grapples with foreign interference from the Chinese government.

The group includes Liberal MP John McKay, chair of the Commons defence committee, and Michael Chong, the Conservative foreign affairs critic who was hit with sanctions by China in 2021. Others include NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson, Bloc Québécois foreign affairs critic Stéphane Bergeron and Conservative defence critic James Bezan.

China, an authoritarian state, considers democratic Taiwan a breakaway province and has not ruled out force to annex the island of 24 million. It has increased efforts to isolate Taiwan from the international community, including denying it the chance to participate in global bodies such as the World Health Organization’s regular assemblies, and persuading those countries that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country to sever relations. In 2000, Taiwan had diplomatic relations with 29 member states of the United Nations, as well as the Holy See, and today the number is down to 12 and the Vatican.

Canada has not recognized Taiwan as a sovereign state since 1970 when former prime minister Pierre Trudeau switched diplomatic relations to the Communist-led People’s Republic of China on the mainland.

But Taipei has been working to maintain robust informal ties with Western liberal democracies as well as countries in Asia such as Japan.

Taiwan is a major focal point for Chinese espionage. Last August, cybersecurity firm Recorded Future released a report detailing how RedAlpha, hackers it says are likely working for Beijing, has conducted years of espionage against various governments, think tanks and media outlets, with “consistent focus” on targets in Taiwan. In 2019, Reporters Without Borders released a report saying Taiwan is China’s top target for disinformation.

Canada-China relations, already badly damaged by the seizure and lengthy imprisonment of two Canadian citizens in China after Canada’s arrest of a Huawei executive in British Columbia, have continued to ebb after The Globe and Mail and other media reported about efforts by the Chinese government to meddle in Canadian politics. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has launched three separate probes into Chinese interference in Canadian politics with opposition parties calling for a public inquiry.

Mr. McKay said he looks forward to talking to Taiwanese legislators about coping with Chinese meddling. “I’d be interested to hear how they handle foreign interference, because I’m sure they’re a lot more adept and skilled at it than we are.”

The Liberal MP said the trip is a way to show support for a young democracy, which transitioned from a military dictatorship in the 1980s and 1990s into what he described as an “exemplary nation that respects the rule of law” today.

“I think for us, the message is we respect the will of a democratic nation to live its [own] life,” Mr. McKay said. He said he hopes the trip serves “as encouragement for the government and people of Taiwan.”

The MPs leave April 9 for Taiwan. Their trip is being paid for by Taiwan.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday but Beijing vehemently protested against a similar visit by Canadian MPs to Taiwan last October, saying it “grossly interferes” in its domestic affairs and encourages “separatist forces” in Taiwan.

The MPs are making the trip a few months after Canada and Taiwan agreed to began talks on a trade deal called an investment protection agreement.

Ms. McPherson, the NDP foreign affairs critic, said this trip marks part of a resumption of normal inter-parliamentary relations with Taiwan now that COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have lifted. She said she is eager to learn more about Taiwan’s relationship with its 570,000 Indigenous people and its work on sustainable development.

Taiwan has been receiving a stream of foreign delegations from countries such as Czech Republic, Britain and the United States.

Even as it’s welcoming visitors, Taiwan is preparing for a Chinese invasion. It’s taking delivery of new fighter planes and new tanks, and building new submarines. It just extended compulsory military service for men to one year from four months.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a Senate committee he agreed with assessments by U.S. intelligence agencies that China’s military will have acquired the capacity to invade Taiwan by 2027.

Mr. Chong said the lack of formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan make visits by foreign lawmakers so much more important.

“It helps to reinforce the need to ensure peaceful relations across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “These visits reinforce the relationship between democracies and Taiwan and make it clear any military action by China will not be without a price.”