Sunak and his China policy draw criticism – even from within his own party

After two suspected Chinese spies were arrested in the UK, criticism of Prime Minister Sunak and his China policy is growing louder.

According to opposition leader Keir Starmer said during a debate in the House of Commons that the news that a parliamentary research assistant had been arrested was a “serious security threat.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also addressed the media reports in the House of Commons, saying, “We will defend our democracy and our security.” Sunak is doing too little to counter Chinese influence, in the view of opposition politicians, as well as politicians from his own party. Foreign Minister James Cleverly has only just visited China, countering critics that it would not be credible for Britain to turn its back on the second-largest economic power.

China must be perceived as a threat

But the critics have not fallen silent. Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservatives, founded a parliamentary group on China that brings together MPs from numerous states and various parties: “We have a problem with China, and all we are concerned with is not antagonizing China.” He is helped in his argument by the Sunak government’s National Security Strategy. It says China is a “challenge” to security. China is a threat, it says. And that’s how the U.K. must confront China, he says: “Being particularly friendly with China does not mean we can trade more. The U.S. is leading the way. They’re pulling out of microprocessor production, iPhones are now produced in India. Mid-sized American companies are pulling out of China.”

Image: Number 10, The Prime Minister speaks to the President of Ukraine (52816720099), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (image resized).

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