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Iran Press TV

UK set to harden approach towards China in the wake of pandemic

Iran Press TV

Monday, 01 June 2020 4:31 PM

After several months of intense lobbying it appears that the hardline anti-China faction in the ruling Tory party has finally managed to significantly influence British policy on China.

According to Sky News, the UK is set to "rethink" its policy on China following the "hardening" of attitudes in the government in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Quoting "Whitehall" sources, Sky News reports that the British government believes the coronavirus crisis will have a "lasting impact" on the world order.

It quotes Lord Ricketts, a former national security adviser and former ambassador to France, as claiming: "We are at one of those watershed moments – a bit like after the Second World War".

"What we risk is a world fractured into spheres of influence again … Clearly a Chinese sphere, an American sphere, a European sphere perhaps - rather weaker", Lord Ricketts predicted.

Sky News then quotes one of its anonymous Whitehall sources as stating: "The thinking is that we are going to have a much more difficult relationship [with China] and we should lessen our dependence".

A second anonymous Whitehall source tells Sky News that the "keystone" of the new government approach is that the UK is "prepared to take economic pain to reduce dependence on China".

In a related development seven former British foreign secretaries have written a letter to the serving foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, demanding the UK takes the "lead" in coordinating the "international response" to China's plan to apply a new national security law to Hong Kong.

Raab had earlier announced the UK is prepared to grant full British citizenship to British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong.

The flurry of reports about a potential strategic shift in Sino-British relations comes on the heels of intensified activity by the anti-China faction in the ruling Tory party led by the chair of the foreign affairs select committee in the House of Commons, Tom Tugendhat.

In late April the anti-China faction even set up a "research" group to co-ordinate anti-Chinese propaganda activities across the government, media and the universities.

This intense lobbying is believed to have played a significant role in persuading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel the Chinese technology giant Huawei's contribution to the development of Britain's 5G network.

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