Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

Careful Boris! PM faces huge China challenge as Tory MP issues Brexit trade deal warning

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Relations have recently soured due to allegations over the origins of the coronavirus, removal of Huawei from the 5G network and the Hong Kong security law. Despite this, Tory MP for Gloucester and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary China Group, Richard Graham warned the Government must be careful with how it maintains ties with Beijing. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Graham said the UK must still be able to criticise the Chinese government for its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang while maintaining trade.

According to Government figures, China stood as the UK’s fifth largest trading partner.

Outside of the EU, Chinese trade also accounted for £68.2billion – second behind the US – which caused the MP to urge a greater understanding of the state due to its huge importance.

He said: “We need to develop our current understanding of China.

“They are an important global partner but we must be able to criticise them over certain issues.

“They have extraordinary power and control but we must be continue to build a balance and constructive relationship.

“Our relationship is of big significance and we must be aware of any future actions which could hinder that.

“Overall, we must continue to build global ties to be able to stand up to the Chinese government over certain issues.

“Global Britain is about forming relationships around the world but we cannot not risk our economic ties with state going forward.”

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The rhetoric surrounding UK-Sino relations, has subsided over the last month as the British Government focuses on the second wave of the coronavirus and current Brexit talks.

Previously, Tory MPs have called on the Government to stand up to China and follow America’s hawkish approach to the state.

While not agreeing with that approach, Mr Graham insisted the UK should work to form global ties with allies across the world to shine a light on China’s wrongdoings.

Although rescinding the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Mr Johnson has pledged to continue to engage with the state.

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He said previously: “What we won’t do, as I say, is completely abandon our policy of engagement with China.

“China is a giant factor of geopolitics.

“It’s going to be a giant factor in our lives, the lives of our children and our grandchildren.

“You have got to have a calibrated response.

“And we are going to be tough on some things – but also going to continue to engage.”

While UK-Sino relations have now simmered, the US has continued to ramp its measures against the state.

This week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of secret attempts by Chinese state actors to influence US politics ahead of the nation’s presidential election.

He said: “Know that when you are approached by a Chinese diplomat, it is likely not in the spirit of cooperation or friendship.

“The federal government can’t police every bit of this predatory and coercive behaviour.

“We need your help to protect American interests requires vigilance, vigilance that starts with you – and all state legislators, regardless of party.”

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