Despite Conservative worries about “appeasing” China given its strong stance and appalling human rights record, Rishi Sunak welcomes the Foreign Secretary’s visit to the country. He even says that he expects to run into Xi Jinping at the G20 summit the following week. Political Editor James Tapsfield of MailOnline, 30 August 2023 14:47 EDT
Rishi Sunak suggested that the Foreign Secretary might meet Xi Jinping at the G20 summit the following week as he was visiting China today. Although the PM refused to address them, he did say that it was “sensible” to communicate with foreign leaders, even if they did not always share his opinions.James Cleverly made the comments on his first trip to Beijing as foreign secretary in five years.
This morning in Beijing, he had a conversation with Vice President Han Zheng, emphasizing that clear communication was the best defense against misconceptions.The frigid relations with the Asian superpower may warm up as a result of the conversations, according to diplomats. Any high-level meeting would depend on Xi’s uncertain intention to attend the G20.
Tories have raised objections to the government’s ‘appeasement’ of Beijing, citing breaches of human rights, saber-rattling about Taiwan, and the way Hong Kong is handled. Mr. Sunak asserts that it is ‘totally viable’ to engage Beijing while upholding UK values and interests.
In response to a question on whether he intended to see the Chinese leader at the summit the following week, he said, “(China is) a country with fundamentally different values from ours, and we need to be strong in standing up for the things that matter to us, not just for our values but for our interests…However, it also makes sense to engage in conversation with individuals, just as we do with all of our friends, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and others, in order to find areas of common ground on issues where we can cooperate to advance.Whether it be the state of the economy, world health, or climate change.
The PM went on to say that Mr. Cleverly’s visit was “entirely sensible” and represented “our approach” to the country.As he sat down with the vice president this morning, Mr. Cleverly said: “It is important that countries like ours meet and speak face to face on regular occasions to enhance understanding, to avoid misunderstanding, and to address the challenges and differences of opinion that all countries have in bilateral relations.”The need to “take advantage of our shared endeavors” was another point he made in reference to the challenges the world is currently facing.Mr. Cleverly said in a different post on X that he wouldn’t “shy away” from having “tough conversations” while in China, where he will also meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi.He continued, “Interacting with China does not mean that we avoid having difficult conversations.”It entails directly communicating our concerns to others in person.
For that reason, I’m here.The trip takes place as the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) asks for a more structured and comprehensive approach to deal with China’s aggression and its potential impact on UK interests and global stability. In a new 87-page research focusing on the “Tilt to the Indo-Pacific” outlined in the Integrated Review, MPs stressed the requirement of an integrated China strategy that covers not just trade and security but also diplomatic engagement, human rights, and technical cooperation.
The paper recommends that the higher classification version of the China strategy be briefed to all relevant ministries and asserts that there is “confusion about the Tilt to the Indo-Pacific across Whitehall, stemming from a failure to explain the policy.” Members of the committee also asked the government to openly debate the unacceptability of this approach with Chinese government leaders and to recognise that the recurrent attacks on Hong Kong dissidents are a product of a bigger Chinese Communist Party policy of repression.
“Today’s report is a thorough assessment of the UK’s policy on the Indo-Pacific; the result of two years of evidence gathering and research,” said Alicia Kearns, the committee’s conservative chair. The Indo-Pacific, a wide and diversified geopolitical region that is anticipated to keep growing as a big economic powerhouse, is home to more than half of the world’s population. The era of the Indo-Pacific has begun. Whenever the Indo-Pacific is discussed, China is a major player.
China’s determination to compete with the size and strength of the West on a global scale was made clear at the recent BRICS conference, but the clues have been there for years. We must expand our networks in the Indo-Pacific and offer credible, democratic alternatives to the Indo-Pacific governments if we are to stop China’s economic and political development. The Foreign Affairs Committee, she claimed, has long emphasized that the UK’s relations with China should strike a balance between economic cooperation and caution. “The secret, evasive China strategy is buried deep in Whitehall, kept secret even from senior ministers across the Government,” she continued. How are people able to pass laws and implement policies without being aware of the overall strategy? The government’s approach to China’s lack of unity was stressed in the Intelligence and Security Committee report. Furthermore, our research demands that a non-classified China strategy be made public by the government.
In the Indo-Pacific, it is crucial to strengthen diplomatic, military, and commercial connections because China will be quick to fill any gaps left by the West. Deterrence and adaptability must be the main goals of our foreign policy. Concentrations of power are very easy to go into the wrong hands. By diversifying our supply chains, particularly our supply of semiconductors, we will be long-term safeguarded. Ms. Kearns called Taiwan a “important ally and partner of the UK” and said the government should stand shoulder to shoulder with Taiwan, making it clear that attempts to undermine Taiwanese self-determination are unacceptable.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn