Rishi Sunak warns China is ‘challenge of the era’ for British security

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Prime Minister warned Britain will ‘pull back’ against Chinese threats to British interests (Image: Rex)

China poses an “epochal challenge” to the security of the UK and the world, Rishi Sunak said.

The prime minister vowed to remain “engaged” with Beijing but warned “our approach needs to evolve” to cope with its growing alliance with Russia.

His comments made it into a foreword to an updated review of Britain’s foreign and defense policy.

They marked the most stern tone Mr Sunak has adopted on China since his campaign for the Tory leadership, when he called it the “biggest long-term threat to Britain”.

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang holds a press conference

China has been accused of bending poorer nations through “debt trap diplomacy” (Image: Getty)

He has since shut down his language, and Britain’s official foreign policy does not identify China as a threat.

However, the updated review refers to “actions and stated intentions” that “threaten the interest of the UK”.

In his foreword, Mr. Sunak said: “China represents an epochal challenge to the kind of international order we want to see, both in terms of security and values ​​- and therefore our approach needs to evolve.

“We will work with our partners to work with Beijing on issues such as climate change.”

But he also warned that Britain would “pull back” against “any attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to enforce or create dependencies,” possibly indicative of China’s policy of granting huge loans to many African nations in exchange for infrastructure contracts.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives for media interviews at the port of San Diego, USA, ahead of his meetings with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as part of Aukus, a trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK, and the US. Picture date: Monday March 13, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Aukus. Photo credit should read: Leon Neal/PA Wire

Mr Sunak led a spate of new defense announcements including an increase in defense spending (Image: PA).

Around 12% of Africa’s external debt is owed to China, and controversy continues over whether the country engages in “debt trap diplomacy” to turn poorer nations into political allies.

The report highlights China’s “deepening partnership” with Russia and Moscow’s “growing cooperation” with Iran as two developments of “particular concern”.

It also accused Premier Xi Jinping of overseeing an ongoing tendency toward “authoritarianism and assertiveness.”

It goes on to say: “Where it is consistent [British national] interests, we will work constructively with the Chinese government, business and people, and work together on common priorities.

“But wherever the actions and stated intentions of the Chinese Communist Party threaten the interests of the UK, we will act swiftly and decisively to protect them.”

Meanwhile, the review also confirmed plans to increase defense spending by £5bn over the next two years.

The government now has “aspirations” to raise it to 2.5% of national income “to the extent that financial and economic circumstances permit,” she added.

Officials also vowed to continue combating Moscow’s “malicious” hold on world affairs by working with countries like Moldova and Mongolia, while “mining” Russian capabilities that threaten the UK.

The report continues: “A crucial part of this is helping Ukraine to reassert its sovereignty and denying Russia any strategic benefit from its invasion.”

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/13/rishi-sunak-warns-china-is-the-challenge-of-the-era-for-uk-security-18435608/ Rishi Sunak warns China is 'challenge of the era' for British security

Justin Scacco

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