Ever since Donald Trump told a sleeping world about the excesses of China, countries have been trying to dissociate themselves from the Communist nation. But, UK, a key ally of the USA was too much dependent on it. That is why, Rishi Sunak is trying to become 3rd Prime Minister in a row whose pitched USP will be being a China hawk and he has his arsenal ready.
Anti-China strategy of Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak has told Brits that if he becomes the Prime Minister, then he will eliminate influence of China from the region. And Rishi does not mean lowering only Chinese money on the banks of Thames river. He seems to have a detailed plan for throwing out Chinese soft power in the country as well. Rishi has announced that if he becomes PM, then he will shut down 30 Confucius institutes in Britain. Additionally, on the lines of India keeping a check on foreign funding, Rishi will also ask Universities to disclose foreign funding. This move is specially targeted to what Rishi termed as “kick the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) out of our universities”. Moreover, to counter Chinese military ambitions, Rishi is thinking of building a “NATO-style” military cooperation.
Highlighting how he will change attitude of British political set up towards China, Rishi Sunak said, “They torture, detain and indoctrinate their own people, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, in contravention of their human rights. And they have continually rigged the global economy in their favour by suppressing their currency. Enough is enough. For too long, politicians in Britain and across the West have rolled out the red carpet and turned a blind eye to China’s nefarious activity and ambitions. I will change this on Day 1 as PM.”
China’s predatory diplomacy
Like every other country in the western world, UK is also a victim of Bill Clinton’s eagerness to bring China in WTO. Initially, China did not show any intention to increase its political clout in Britain. China utilised the days of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to build a base upon which they could launch a full-fledged diplomatic offensive. 3 years into David Cameron’s Prime Ministership, Xi Jinping took charge in China and China’s imperial ambitions became overt, especially in its neighbouring regions.
David Cameroon is the culprit
In spite of being aware of China’s predatory approach, David Cameron went out of his way to forge warm ties with China. In his 2013 visit to the China, Cameron went with largest ever trade delegation of 120 people. Both countries signed trade pact worth 6 billion pounds. Next year, Li Keqiang returned the favour on Xi Jiping’s part. Later, George Osborne, then British Finance Minister explicitly declared that Britain is dependent on China for economic growth.
In 2015, Xi Jinping himself visited the country and there the world finally got to know the depth with which China had permeated in Britain’s polity. Cameron’s promise of “golden era” in China-Britain relationship was being manifested in him sharing a pint of beer with Jinping at a pub in the English county of Buckinghamshire. Later, Chinese bought that pub, along with many other key figures in British politics.
Lord Browne, formerly the UK chairman of Huawei Technologies, served as the British government’s Lead Non-Executive Director from 2010 until 2014. Sir Andrew Cahn, a board member of Huawei UK, was in charge of UK Trade and Investment, while John Suffolk, Huawei’s Senior Vice President and Global Cyber Security and Privacy Officer, also served as Cameron’s Chief Information Officer. Between 2010 and 2016, China invested more than $10 billion in Britain.
Being anti-China is the new USP in Britain’s politics
That is why when David Cameron resigned, it became imminent for upcoming British Prime Ministers to strangulate China. When Theresa May was at the helm of affairs, the level of enthusiasm between London and Beijing went down considerably. Many ambitious projects like an RMB bond issuance and a London-Shanghai stock got sidelined. Later Boris Johnson also continued with May’s legacy and banned Chinese Huawei from participating in Britain’s 5G future.
In March this year, Boris government termed China as the biggest state-based threat to UK’s economic security.
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