The Chinese regime poses “the biggest challenge” to global security and prosperity, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said.
Speaking on the last day of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Japan, Sunak said: “China poses the biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity. They are increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad.”
The prime minister said the G-7 powers are very clear-eyed about the risk that China poses.
He said: “We will work together as the G-7 and other countries make sure that we can de-risk ourselves and the vulnerability of supply chains that we have seen from China, take the steps necessary to protect ourselves against hostile investment, and do so in a way that doesn’t damage each other.”
“There is complete resolve and unity within the G-7, first of all just recognizing the systemic challenge that China poses to the world order,” said Sunak, adding, “It is the only country with both the means and intent to reshape the world order.”
He said the G-7 leaders had conversations about “ensuring that important technology pertinent to our security does not leak to China.”
“This is all about de-risking—not de-coupling,” he said. “With the G-7, we are taking steps to prevent China from using economic coercion to interfere in the sovereign affairs of others.”
The British prime minister’s comments followed talks at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, which focused on not only supporting Ukraine’s resistance against the Russian invasion but also meeting the challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime.
In a joint statement issued Saturday, the G-7 leaders said: “Our policy approaches are not designed to harm China nor do we seek to thwart China’s economic progress and development. We are not decoupling or turning inwards.”
But they said “de-risking and diversifying” are needed to guarantee economic resilience, adding the G-7 countries will “reduce excessive dependencies” in their critical supply chains.
They also said the G-7 powers will “counter malign practices, such as illegitimate technology transfer or data disclosure,” and protect “certain advanced technologies” that could be used to threaten national security.
The statement reaffirmed the need for peace in the Taiwan Strait and urged China to press Russia to end aggression in Ukraine.
Sunak’s government designated China as an “epoch-defining challenge” in the UK’s foreign policy update, stopping short of calling it a “threat” as Sunak did during his leadership bid last year.
He and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly have rejected the rhetoric of having a cold war with China, arguing the country plays a significant role in global affairs.
Last week, it emerged that Sunak has also backtracked on his campaign promise to ban all Confucius Institutes in the UK.
A Downing Street spokesman said on May 16 that the government recognizes “concerns about overseas interference” in the higher education sector, and is taking action to remove any government funding from Confucius Institutes in the UK.
But he said the government currently judges that “it would be disproportionate to ban them.”
Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss, who was on a trip to Taiwan, said on May 17 that the institutes “should be closed down immediately.”
Truss said that it’s not up to the West to choose whether or not it wants to be in a cold war, as Beijing has “already made their choice.”
The former prime minister warned the UK government against future integration with the Chinese economy and called for an “economic NATO” that’s modeled after the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, an informal Western Bloc organization that coordinated embargoes against the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War.
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