Rishi. Sunak has said the so-called “golden era” of relations with China is over, as he vowed to “evolve” the UK’s stance in the direction of the country
In. his first international coverage speech, the PM said the closer financial ties of the previous decade had been “naïve”
He. said the UK now wanted to change wishful considering with “robust pragmatism” in the direction of competitors
But. he warned in opposition t “Cold War rhetoric”, adding that China’s international significance may not be ignored
Mr. Sunak has confronted pressure from Tory backbenchers to toughen the UK’s stance on China since he took over as Tory chief and UK prime minister final month.
The speech, to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, comes after protests in China over the weekend in opposition t the country’s strict Covid lockdown laws
Police. have made a number of arrests, and a BBC. journalist was detained while protecting a protest in Shanghai on Sunday. He was crushed and kicked by the police in the course of his arrest, and held for a number of hours earlier than being released
Mr. Sunak instructed the audience of company leaders and international coverage experts that, in the face of the protests, China had “chosen to crack down further, including by assaulting a BBC journalist”
“We. recognise China poses a systemic problem to our values and interests, a problem that grows extra acute as it moves in the direction of even larger authoritarianism,” he said
He. added that the “golden era” of UK-China relations was “over”, alongside with the “naïve idea” that extra trade with the West would lead to Chinese political reform
The. phrase “golden era” is linked with closer financial ties below former prime minister David Cameron – however relations between London and Beijing have since deteriorated
However,. Mr Sunak confused that “we cannot simply ignore China’s significance in world affairs – to international financial stability or issues like local weather change”
He. added that the UK would work with allies including the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan to “manage this sharpening competition, including with diplomacy and engagement”
“It. means standing up to our competitors, not with grand rhetoric however with robust pragmatism,” he added.
Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss was reportedly planning to re-categorise China as a “threat” to the UK as part of a overview of its international policy
In. his speech, Mr Sunak echoed the phrase used in the overview – that China is a “systemic challenge”. He said there would be extra details of the overview in the new year.
But the “robust pragmatism” line in the speech was criticised by former Tory chief Iain Duncan Smith, one of a quantity of backbenchers pushing for a more durable line
Reacting. to a preview of the speech, he wrote. in the Daily Express that China had develop into a “clear and current threat to us and our allies”
“I. wonder if robust pragmatism now sounds extra and extra like appeasement,” he added
Ukraine. army pledge
Labour’s shadow international secretary David Lammy known as the speech “thin as gruel”, accusing the prime minister of “flip-flopping its rhetoric on China”
Elsewhere. in his speech, Mr Sunak promised to proceed assist for Ukraine, adding: “We will stand with Ukraine for as lengthy as it takes”
He. promised to “maintain or increase” British army assist to the country subsequent year, and provide new air assist to guard civilians and crucial infrastructure
Mr. Sunak visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this month, in his first visit to Kyiv since entering Downing Street
During. the visit, he announced the UK would supply Ukraine with additional anti-aircraft guns and radars, and enhance the training provide to Ukraine’s armed forces.
- 8 hours ago
- 16 November