The ‘Golden Age’ of British-China Ties is Ended, According to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

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Last Updated on November 29, 2022 by Bitfinsider

The so-called golden age of ties with China is finished, according to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who warned that Beijing’s path toward greater authoritarianism constituted a systemic threat to British values and interests.

In his first big foreign policy address, Sunak stated on Monday, “Let’s be clear, the so-called golden age is finished.”

His allusion to the “golden age” of the U.K.-China relationship resembled remarks made by former U.K. Finance Minister George Osborne in 2015, when he asserted that Britain might be China’s “best Western partner.”

Sunak stated that it was “naive” to assume that deeper economic links during the last decade would result in social and political transformation, and he accused Beijing of “obviously fighting for global influence using every instrument of state power.”

However, he cautioned that the United Kingdom could not rely on “simplistic Cold War rhetoric.”

Since he became party leader and prime minister a month ago, Sunak has received pressure from Conservative backbenchers to adopt a tougher approach against China.

In his statement at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, Sunak said, “We understand China poses a systemic risk to our values and interests, a danger that gets more severe as China swings toward even greater authoritarianism.”

His remarks came just after protests against China’s draconian zero-Covid policy were conducted around the country. Sunday, while covering an anti-government rally in Shanghai, a BBC journalist was attacked and temporarily arrested by police.

“Rather than listening to their people’s protests, the Chinese government has opted to intensify repression, including attacking a BBC journalist,” Sunak stated.

“The media and our legislators must be permitted to report these concerns without fear of reprisal, including Xinjiang’s human rights violations and Hong Kong’s freedom restrictions.”

Sunak stated that the rate of geopolitical change was quickening and that “short-termism or wishful thinking would not suffice” in the face of Russia and China’s threats.

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