Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, rivals to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Britain, have become embroiled in a battle over who will take the toughest line on China, putting a definitive end to the famous golden age of Sino-British relations, Bloomberg reports. .
Liz Truss, the front-runner in the Conservative leadership race, has branded Chinese tech giants a security risk, called for arming Taiwan and privately called China’s crackdown on Xinjiang genocide, according to reports . Rishi Sunak has called China Britain’s “biggest long-term threat”.
“There is a perception that China is actually more of a hostile state relationship, so you have to rethink all areas of engagement,” said Julia Pamlich, head of research at the China Research Group, set up by conservative MPs to scrutinize the Sino-British ties.
If Truss or Sunak take a tough approach when one of them becomes prime minister on September 6, they will weaken ties with the UK’s third-largest trading partner – a major source of cheap imports – just as the cost-of-living crisis bites more, with inflation soaring into double digits.
They will align themselves with the US, which it wants its allies to support to deal more clearly with China on human rights issues.
But amid fears over the involvement of Chinese-backed companies in critical UK infrastructure, the new leader will also turn off the investment taps that David Cameron and George Osborne tried to turn on just seven years ago when they were in office of the prime minister and the finance minister, respectively.
In 2015, the two men said Britain would be China’s “best partner in the West”, promising a “golden era” in relations.
Now, both Truss and Sunak reckon that a degree of financial loss is an acceptable price for defending Western authorities.