China asks Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak not to 'hype China threat'

Amid the ongoing bid for the Tory leadership, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak this week came out all guns blazing against China. "China and the Chinese Communist Party represent the largest threat to Britain and the world's security and prosperity this century," Sunak said in a Twitter thread on Monday.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao LijianANI

BEIJING: Amid the race to become the next British Prime Minister, China has warned British politicians against making irresponsible remarks about the second largest economy in the world after UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss asked for a crackdown on Chinese companies. "I already made clear China's position yesterday. We regret and firmly oppose their statements concerning China. The UK's Conservative Party leadership election is an internal affair of the UK. We won't comment on it. Neither are we interested in doing so," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Tuesday.

This response comes after Truss said the UK must limit tech exports to China and crack down on companies like TikTok. "I want to make it clear to certain British politicians that making irresponsible remarks about China, including hyping up the so-called 'China threat', cannot solve one's own domestic problems," the Chinese spokesperson added. Zhao made these remarks in response to repeated potshots being taken against China in the contest to replace Boris Johnson as the Conservative party leader in the UK. Both Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are taking tough lines against China.

Amid the ongoing bid for the Tory leadership, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak this week came out all guns blazing against China. "China and the Chinese Communist Party represent the largest threat to Britain and the world's security and prosperity this century," Sunak said in a Twitter thread on Monday.

While describing China as a top threat to the UK, Sunak promised to close all of China's Confucius Institutes in the UK and build a new alliance of free nations to tackle Chinese cyber-threats. "I would close all 30 of China's Confucius Institutes in the UK - the highest number in the world. Almost all UK government spending on Mandarin language teaching at school is channelled through university-based Confucius Institutes, thereby promoting Chinese soft power," he said.

Sunak's tough stand on Beijing comes after his rival in the race to lead the ruling Conservative Party, Liz Truss, accused him of being weak on Russia and China. Even a Chinese state media outlet had once described Sunak as the only candidate in the contest with a "pragmatic view" on developing UK-China ties. The Indian-origin UK PM contender said he will expand MI5's reach to provide greater support to British businesses and universities to counter Chinese industrial espionage. "We'll work across government and with security services to build a toolkit to help companies protect their intellectual property," he said.

He also promised to protect key British assets and to examine the need to prevent Chinese acquisitions of key British assets including strategically sensitive tech firms. Last week, Sunak and UK foreign secretary Liz Truss emerged as the final two candidates in the country's leadership race for the ruling Conservative party. Truss is reportedly leading the UK PM race.

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