China has been rocked by a flood of violent protests against Xi Jinping’s strict zero-Covid policy. The unrest has marked an unprecedented challenge to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party, with demonstrators calling for the President to step down over his mishandling of Coronavirus regulations. The recent protests, in combination with increased Chinese aggression towards Taiwan, have brought pressure down on the Conservative Government to toughen the UK’s stance on Chinese foreign relations. However, former MI6 operations and intelligence director Nigel Inkster has warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to be “careful” in making statements concerning China as he suggested Britain should follow the lead of President Biden.
Asked for his opinion on how the current Tory Government should approach relations with China, Mr Inkster said: “I think the UK would be very well advised to say the necessary minimum and not appear to be getting too closely involved at this stage.”
He told Times Radio: “At the end of the day, let us be honest, the Chinese Communist Party will not give a damn what Britain thinks.
“They will do what they need to do. We do need to be careful.
“With China, we’re not going to change China. If China changes, the change will come from within.”
Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s banquet earlier this week, Rishi Sunak said: We also need to evolve our approach to China. Let’s be clear, the so-called ‘golden era’ is over, along with the naïve idea that trade would automatically lead to social and political reform.”
The Prime Minister continued: “We recognise China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism.”
He condemned China’s “crackdown” on protesters and highlighted an “assault” on a BBC journalist covering the demonstrations.
However, Mr Sunak warned against “Cold War rhetoric” as he acknowledged that it would be impossible to “ignore China’s significance in world affairs,” including global economic stability.
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