UK’s China Strategy Under Scrutiny as Rishi Sunak’s Possible Meeting with Xi Jinping Looms

Key parliamentary report criticizes government’s China approach amid speculation of a high-level meeting.

A critical report released by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has raised concerns over the UK government’s stance towards China, coinciding with the revelation that Chancellor Rishi Sunak might soon engage in talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Committee’s Alarm:
In a new report, the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has asserted that the activities of the Chinese Communist Party pose a significant threat to the UK and its interests. The report highlights the escalating aggression exhibited by China towards the UK.

Unclassified Strategy Demand:
The MPs argue that by withholding an unclassified version of the government’s strategy, ministers risk failing to effectively counter the sovereignty risks posed by a more assertive China. The report emphasizes the necessity of transparency in policy implementation.

Diplomatic Tensions:
As diplomatic relations between the UK and China show signs of improvement, James Cleverly, soon to be the first foreign secretary in five years to visit China, has rejected criticism from within his own party, stating that he will not resort to mere “catchphrases” in diplomacy.

Growing Espionage Concerns:
The report comes shortly after the intelligence and security committee of parliament revealed that Britain was targeted by a prolific and aggressive Chinese espionage campaign. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has urged Cleverly to cancel his upcoming trip to China.

Potential High-Level Meeting:
Sources from within the government have hinted that Prime Minister Boris Johnson might hold discussions with President Xi at the upcoming G20 summit in India next month.

Committee’s Calls:
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report underscores the need for ministers to perceive China’s actions as part of a consistent effort to intimidate expatriates and dissidents, not isolated incidents. It also demands that the government consider expelling foreign diplomats engaged in intimidation or attacks on British citizens.

Hidden Strategy Critique:
Committee chair Alicia Kearns has voiced concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the government’s China strategy. The strategy kept confidential and elusive within Whitehall, reportedly remains undisclosed even to senior ministers.

Cleverly’s Agenda:
The critical report serves as a backdrop for Cleverly’s impending meeting with his Chinese counterpart. During the visit, he is expected to address issues such as global security and China’s international responsibilities.

Balancing Relations:
In a speech earlier this year, Cleverly stressed the importance of a balanced approach toward China, acknowledging the need for engagement while addressing human rights concerns. He emphasized China’s global significance and responsibilities.

The release of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s report and the potential high-level meeting between UK officials and Chinese leaders underscore the complex diplomatic landscape between the two nations. As both sides navigate issues of international security, diplomacy, and strategic transparency, the global community watches with heightened interest.

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