Relations with China: Xi Jinping Presidency — [Sir Edward Leigh in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:54 pm on 16th March 2023.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 2:54 pm, 16th March 2023

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions—including Margaret Ferrier, who always speaks on behalf of those in Hong Kong and the Uyghurs. We all appreciate her intelligent interventions. I give special thanks to Sir Iain Duncan Smith. Whenever he gets up to speak, I sit down to listen. Many others in the Chamber do the same: we recognise that he speaks words of wisdom. He clearly underlined the question of when the UK Government will demand the release of Jimmy Lai, a British citizen. When will he be released? That is not too much to ask.

Tim Loughton has campaigned on behalf of Tibet for a long time. One of the first Westminster Hall debates that I attended—about 10 years ago now; that is hard to believe—was led by the hon. Gentleman. He referred to the authoritarian lifetime President of China. He made a comparison with the Nazis of the 1930s and discussed China’s attempt to change the world order by strengthening its navy, air force and army. As always, he spoke up for the Uyghurs, those in Tibet and the Dalai Lama. He also mentioned the Confucius Institutes, which we are all concerned about.

Mr Carmichael shared his wisdom, referring to how his debate on genomics last week had developed beyond this Chamber. He said that it had to be part of the critical structure of the United Kingdom. Tommy Sheppard also referred to the Confucius Institutes and growing Chinese influence. He discussed China’s key role in Hong Kong and across the world, including the United Kingdom, and its strategy.

Catherine West spoke of the genocide against the Uyghurs and the UK’s need to show strength against China. She gave examples of where the independent review does not challenge China as we would like it to have. At the end, the Minister spoke of what the United Kingdom is doing. We would probably like to see a bit more courage, strength and determination; I say that with respect. We need to see those things as the UK Government strategy goes forward.

I finish with this comment. This April, one of Hong Kong’s most senior finance officials is planning to visit the UK. If we were any sort of strong, forward-thinking, determined and courageous country, we would say to him, “You know something? You’re not welcome until we see the changes that should be happening.” I thank you for your chairmanship, Sir Edward, and everyone else who has contributed.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered the matter of relations with China during the presidency of Xi Jinping.

Sitting suspended.