©Health & Fitness Journal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his visit to Kyiv, Ukraine November 19, 2022 as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues. Press Service of the President of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo
By David Milliken
LONDON (Health & Fitness Journal) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday said the so-called “golden era” of relations with China was over, saying Beijing’s systemic challenge to Britain’s interests and values was becoming more acute.
In his first major foreign policy speech, Sunak said Britain’s approach to China needs to evolve and that Beijing is “deliberately competing for global influence by using every lever of state power”.
“Let’s be clear, the so-called ‘golden era’ is over, along with the naïve idea that trade would lead to social and political reforms,” Sunak said in London’s financial district, a reference to the former finance minister’s description of Sino George Osborne – British Relations in 2015.
Some in Sunak’s Conservative Party criticized Sunak, viewing him as less hawkish about China than his predecessor, Liz Truss. Last year, when he was finance minister, he called for a nuanced strategy on China to balance human rights concerns while expanding economic ties.
However, a planned meeting between Sunak and China’s President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Bali this month fell through, and last week London banned Chinese-made surveillance cameras from sensitive government buildings.
“We recognize that China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that is becoming more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism,” he said, referring to the BBC’s statement that one of his journalists had been attacked by the Chinese police.
“Of course, we cannot simply ignore China’s importance in world affairs – for global economic stability or issues such as climate change. The USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and many others understand that too.”
Sunak said Britain would not opt for the “status quo” under his leadership and would “not use great rhetoric but robust pragmatism” to confront international competitors.
On Ukraine, he said the government will continue military aid to Kyiv next year and maintain strong support from former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Truss.
“So rest assured, we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes.” We will maintain or increase our military aid over the next year. And we will provide new support for air defense,” he said.
In September Britain said it was the second largest military donor to Ukraine after the United States, having provided £2.3 billion ($2.8 billion) in aid this year.
Sunak said Britain must adopt the same long-term approach as its opponents and competitors like Russia and China.
“Faced with these challenges, short-termism or wishful thinking will not suffice. We cannot rely on Cold War arguments or approaches or mere sentimentality about the past,” he said.
($1 = 0.8288 pounds)