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FALMOUTH, England – The G7 summit widened Cabinet’s division over how strong the line the UK should take vis-à-vis China.
Some of Britain’s top politicians consider it essential to forge closer trade ties with the superpower. But others say the regime should be kept at a greater distance because of human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang and Hong Kong provinces – as well as Beijing’s decision to impose sanctions on it. some British MPs.
Boris Johnson last month invited the MPs in question to the garden at 10 Downing Street for a solidarity photo op, saying he stood “firmly with them”.
But one of the British Prime Minister’s top advisers is pushing for a charm offensive with Chinese trade officials, especially on investment. Who crossed as the Prime Minister approaches talks with his fellow leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall, according to an official and two senior Conservative MPs. The final stance on China will be one of the most scrutinized parts of the G7 communiqué, but behind the scenes Johnson is being pulled in two different directions.
Members of the party’s skeptical wing of China are worried. “No one is suggesting that we stop all trade with China, but pressuring Cabinet to forge those ties when all the evidence to suggest genocide is emerging is a bad step,” said a senior conservative politician, referring to China’s treatment of the Uyghur minority the United States has called genocide, with the Dutch and British parliaments following suit.
Dominic Raab, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Liz Truss, the Secretary of Commerce, favor a more cautious approach with China than their Cabinet colleagues. Truss is keen to focus his ties only on non-strategic areas – the less sensitive aspects of the business, according to an official.
While the government’s fall over China’s access to the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure has been interpreted as the dawn of a more hawkish approach, Johnson has previously described himself as “fervently Sinophile” and some colleagues fear that he has never really changed his mind.
An ex-minister said that to the extent that Johnson has taken a tougher stance on China, it was done to ‘pacify’ the party – ‘he is doing it because he knows they will lose the voices [in parliament on relevant legislation]. “
This has left some ministers nervous that the opportunity to take a stronger stance on China’s economic aggression may be missed. An official said that a Cabinet minister had pushed for a call for peace in the Taiwan Strait – a heavily guarded area of the South China Sea – to be mentioned in the final G7 communiqué.
The tense sea area was recently mentioned in an EU-Japan joint statement, provoking an angry reaction from China, which does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state and sees it as an internal matter. G7 foreign ministers also urged Beijing to refrain from escalating “tensions” in the East and South China Seas, over concerns over an open conflict with Taiwan.
Managers close to discussions within the business department and the Foreign Ministry on transparency about how goods originating in China are produced said efforts to make changes that would target human rights violations stalled ahead of the summit. They also pointed to a letter sent by the House of Commons affairs committee which said it was “deeply disappointed that the government’s response does not commit to clear deadlines and substantive actions” on issues. issues such as the effective audit of supply chains with links to China.
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