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“Golden Era” of UK-China Relations is over, Says Sunak 

Sunak issued a warning that Britain's rivals were making "long-term" plans

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

UNITED KINGDOM: Rishi Sunak, prime minister of the UK, has announced the end of the “golden era” of British-Chinese relations by making his first important speech on foreign policy to warn of the growing authoritarianism of Xi Jinping’s government.

The prime minister voiced his support for demonstrators by denouncing Beijing’s crackdown and the assault on a BBC journalist as police in China used a show of force in an effort to quell the biggest levels of civil disobedience seen in decades.

As per Sunak, the UK’s defence and security strategy for the coming decade, known as the “Integrated Review,” will be updated in the new year; he also called for a hardening of diplomatic relations and described China as a “systemic challenge to our values and interests.”

While he held back from calling China a threat, he did admit that western nations could not ignore its influence on global affairs and capacity to assist with common problems like economic stability and climate change.

The move, which brought a sharp change from his more hardline approach while running for the Conservative leadership during the summer, was criticised as being “thin as gruel” and eerily similar to the “appeasement” policy that Britain originally deployed against the Nazis in the 1930s.

Sunak strongly denounced previous UK administrations’ treatment of China and vowed to oppose “short-termism or wishful thinking.”

The prime minister said, quoting David Cameron, “The so-called ‘golden period’ is over, along with the mistaken belief that trade would lead to social and political reform,” on Monday night at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet.

Sunak issued a warning that Britain’s rivals were making “long-term” plans and that the UK needs to adopt a “longer-term stance on China.”

In his statement, Sunak said, “We recognise China poses a structural risk to our beliefs and interests, a risk that grows more serious as it evolves toward an increasingly totalitarian regime. The Chinese government has opted to repress its citizens even more, including by attacking a BBC journalist, rather than paying attention to their protests.”

“The media, as well as our parliamentarians, must be able to draw attention to these issues without fear of retaliation, especially by exposing abuses in Xinjiang and the restriction of freedom in Hong Kong,” he added.

Sunak was making reference to China’s last year’s sanctions against several Tory MPs for voicing concerns about what the UN has dubbed “serious human rights violations” targeting Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang area.

The speech’s most blatant hint is that it was partially intended to calm members of his party who worry that he isn’t tough enough to stand up to Beijing.

Iain Duncan Smith, a sanctioned MP and former Tory leader, suggested that Sunak go further than referring to China as a “systematic challenge” in an updated integrated review rather than classifying the nation as a “threat.”

In the summertime Tory leadership election, Sunak claimed that China is “the biggest long-term threat to Britain and the world’s economic and national security.”

His predecessor, Liz Truss, was ready to publicly reclassify China as a threat in a modified version of the Integrated Review.

Also Read: UK’s New PM Rishi Sunak Begins Cabinet Reshuffle


  • Sadaf Hasan
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