China: UK policy — [Sir Edward Leigh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:37 pm on 7th May 2019.

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Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 5:37 pm, 7th May 2019

The swings and turns have been peculiarly rapid. Under George Osborne, we were pressed strongly to engage economically with the Chinese; under the recently sacked Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, we were to have naval ships going into the South China sea. One does not normally expect to see such twists and turns in a mature European democracy.

The Foreign Affairs Committee report is excellent. It stated:

“China is seeking a role in the world commensurate with its growing economic power, and…This makes China a viable partner for the UK on some issues, but an active challenger on others.

The current framework of UK policy towards China reflects an unwillingness to face this reality. The UK’s approach risks prioritising economic considerations over other interests, values and national security...there does not appear to be a clear sense either across Government or within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of what the overarching theme of a new policy towards China should be”.

The Committee also calls on the Government to publish a new strategy—that is a fair call.