February 8, 2023

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says the "golden age" of Britain and China is over

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says the “golden age” of Britain and China is over

Sunak’s comments come shortly after groups of people across China staged public demonstrations to protest the country’s strict non-coronavirus policy.

Daniel Lyle | Afp | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the so-called “golden age” of relations with China was over, warning that Beijing’s move towards greater authoritarianism was a systemic challenge to Britain’s values ​​and interests.

“Let’s be clear, the so-called ‘golden age’ is over,” Sunak said on Monday in his first major foreign policy speech.

His reference to the “golden age” of the UK-China relationship was an echo of comments made in 2015 by former UK chancellor George Osborne, who claimed that Britain could be “China.”The best partner in the West. “

Sunak said it was “naive” to believe that closer economic ties over the past decade could lead to social and political reform and accused Beijing of “clearly competing for global influence using all the tools of state power”.

But he warned that Britain could not rely on “simplistic Cold War rhetoric”.

The Chinese embassy in London could not be reached to respond to a request for comment.

Sunak has faced pressure from Conservative Party MPs to toughen his stance on China since he took over as party leader and prime minister. Last month.

“We recognize that China poses a systemic challenge to our values ​​and interests – a challenge that becomes more acute as it moves towards greater authoritarianism,” Sunak said in his speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London.

His comments come shortly after public demonstrations were held across China to protest the country Strict anti-coronavirus policy. BBC reporter on Sunday was Beaten and briefly detained by the police While covering an anti-government protest in Shanghai.

“Instead of listening to their people’s protests, the Chinese government chose to take more drastic measures, including assaulting a BBC journalist,” Sunak said.

“Our media and parliamentarians must be able to highlight these issues without sanction, including advocating abuses in Xinjiang and restrictions on freedom in Hong Kong.”

Sunak said the pace of geopolitical change was accelerating and that “short-term thinking or wishful thinking will not be enough” in facing the challenges posed by Russia and China.