Rishi Sunak and China

Rishi Sunak is very happy to pay lip service to the view that China is a major challenge to the established world order, but questions remain over whether he is willing to describe them as a threat to the UK.

This question is particularly pertinent given that the UK is due to release its integrated review on Monday afternoon.

Britain’s integrated review, which is due to set out the government’s defence priorities, is allegedly not going to go as far as China hawks in the UK wanted. 

Many have asked the Prime Minister why he hasn’t gone that far, and his response was somewhat non-committal.

“China represents a country that has very different values to ours. It presents an epoch-defining challenge to us and to the global order. It’s a regime that is increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad and has a desire to reshape the world order. We’ve recognized it as the biggest state-based threat to our economic security.”

Sunak claims he does not want to call China a threat due to the risks this could have to wider policy, and not deal in black and white views.

This naturally contrasts with his predecessor, Liz Truss, who was very clear on wanting to brand China a threat, and to clearly shift UK policy toward Beijing in a new direction. Something that would have been welcomed by Tory backbenchers.

But with China looking increasingly belligerent, and with Russia not backing down, it will be interesting to see which country gets priority in the next few years.

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