Britain should “take a meaningful position” and regard China as a “significant threat”.

EU and Chinese flags against blue sky

The Chinese Communist Party has “demonstrated a callous disregard for human rights,” according to the report (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto).

China should officially be seen as a “threat” if Britain is to remain a global “heavyweight power”, say MEPs.

Relations between the two nations have been incredibly turbulent over the past few decades.

The UK and China were on opposite sides during the Cold War, and relations became further strained when Hong Kong was kept as British territory.

In the years that followed, several high-level state visits and trade deals took place to bring the two countries closer together.

Today, China is the UK’s third largest trading partner.

A new report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) claims it is “clear” Britain needs to become more resilient, particularly by walking a “fine line” in relations with the communist nation.

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) has urged Britain to strengthen its resilience to international threats – including China – if it is to remain a global “heavyweight”.

Chairwoman Alicia Kearns said Britain’s ability to respond to “seismic” global shocks has been “repeatedly tested” in recent years, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

China poses a'significant' threat to Britain, with a'meaningful attitude' required (Image: Getty Images)

China poses a ‘significant’ threat to Britain, with a ‘meaningful attitude’ required (Image: Getty Images)

These events exposed the country’s vulnerability, she claimed.

Ms Kearns said: “The more dependent we are on others, the less resilient we are as a nation.

“The Government must walk a fine line – explicitly recognizing the UK’s national security interests and building our nation’s resilience, while continuing to engage with China as an economic partner.

“For the past decade, the Chinese Communist Party has sought to tighten its authoritarian grip while demonstrating a callous disregard for human rights.

Alicia Kearns, a British lawmaker, speaks to members of the media in Taipei, Taiwan, December 2, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Alicia Kearns has called for action on Anglo-Chinese relations (Image: Reuters)

“If Britain is to take a meaningful stand against the Chinese government, we must break free of our dependence on China.”

The committee warned that China posed a “significant threat” to the UK on “many different levels”, citing potential dangers such as intellectual property theft and intimidation of British citizens.

Despite their concerns, MPs said the government should continue working with China on “key areas”, insisting it was vital to pursuing some global goals, such as tackling climate change.

But ministers should simultaneously strengthen the UK’s resilience and reduce dependence on its economic partner for critical national infrastructure, energy security, consumer goods and technology, they said.

The long-term goal must be to promote “greater resilience and economic diversification” to give the UK more agency in how to respond to perceived aggression or human rights abuses by the Chinese state, the report said.

A government spokesman said: “We recognize that China poses a systemic challenge to our values ​​and interests – but as the FAC report acknowledges, we cannot simply ignore China’s importance in world affairs.

“We are evolving our dealings with China into robust pragmatism – something that is also recognized and understood by our allies and partners.

“We remain committed to defending human rights, and with our allies and partners, we are managing this intensifying competition by improving our resilience and, in particular, our economic security.”

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Justin Scacco

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