The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has announced an increase in funding to further boost skills and knowledge for government staff on China.
This doubling of UK funding for 2024/25 is aimed at building expertise on China, boosting Mandarin language skills, and enhancing the UK’s ability to engage with and understand China, while protecting national security.
The increase in funding will provide extra financial support for the cross-department ‘China Capabilities Programme,’ which operates to increase Chinese expertise across the UK government.
The programme aims to increase knowledge of economic and military policy, as well as Mandarin language skills.
The UK government has already taken several steps to increase knowledge and expertise on China since the last Integrated Review in 2021, including the provision of training for more than 170 civil servants in Mandarin.
Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, has stated that it is vital for diplomats and civil servants to have the understanding and expertise to engage and adapt to the increasing challenge posed by China and its growing role in world affairs.
This extra resource will help boost knowledge and language skills across the government, in the face of the systemic challenge that China poses to the UK’s security, prosperity, and values.
The Integrated Review Refresh launched today, Monday 13 March, sets out how, in the last two years, the UK has become increasingly concerned about the military, diplomatic and economic activity of the Chinese Communist Party.
This includes military activity over Taiwan, attempts at coercion, and the sanctioning of British MPs. China is becoming more authoritarian at home and more assertive overseas.
This increase in funding is another example of the action the UK is taking to ensure effective engagement with China while protecting national security.
Last year, a smaller pilot program was launched, which delivered Mandarin language training to 170 civil servants, with 20 going through a language immersion program in Taiwan.
The program also provided training to hundreds of HMG staff, increased China expertise in the tech and military sectors, and delivered courses on culture, government structures, and policymaking.
Additionally, the establishment of the China experts’ advisory group was formed to test and inform government policymaking, with a broad range of external specialists.