Boris ‘incurring wrath of China with hardball’ move – but risk WILL ‘payoff’ says expert

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Tensions between the UK and China have rocketed following a series of policy changes towards the authoritarian state by Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab. Not only has the British Government u-turned on its decision to grant Chinese tech company Huawei access to the UK’s 5G networks, it has also confirmed that up to three million Hong Kong British nationals will be allowed to migrate to Britain following the implementation of a new security law. Dr Andreas Fulda, a senior fellow at the University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute, spoke to about why the altered policy could be “risky”.

He said: “In my view, China policy should not be reduced to such overly binary and reductionist choices.

“In the mid-1990s, a renowned international relations expert suggested an alternative, which he called ‘constrainment’.

“He described his policy being that constraining the Chinese Communist Party, intending to tell China that the outside world has interests that will be defended by means of incentives for good behaviour, deterrence of bad behaviour and punishment when deterrence fails.

“In a way, what we see what the situation of Hong Kong and the fairly assertive reaction of the British Government is a policy of China ‘constrainment’, they’re playing hardball.”

Dr Fulda continued: “Here I do give Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Raab a lot of credit for taking such a stance. This much more assertive British Government policy towards China is risky for two reasons.

“It has already incurred the wrath of the Chinese Communist Party, and, of course, there is the risk that mass migration from Hong Kong may not be supported by British voters.

“But, in effect, it turns out there was a recent public opinion survey, which has indicated that the public stands behind Johnson’s decision.

“In that sense, they’ve been taking considerable political risks, and I think it will pay off in the long-term.”

The expert added: “The crisis in Hong Kong forces western governments to re-evaluate their strategic approach to China.

“In my view, it is very important that in this process, foreign policy makers here in the UK, but also in the EU and other countries, overcome this very binary and reductionist choice between China engagement and China containment.

“In the past, western foreign policy towards the Chinese Communist Party was informed broadly by these two opposing terms.”

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He told “Think of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has argued for continued dialogue and cooperation regardless of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s increasingly totalitarian approach to governments.

“The other group who prefer China containment, like former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, has called for the overthrow of the Chinese Communist Party.”

China have already accused the British Government of “gross interference” in their internal affairs with the bespoke Hong Kong immigration system.

They claim that the policy “openly tramples” on the basic norms governing international relations.

A Huawei representative also deemed the ban on their equipment a “reputation attack against a privately owned company”, and urged the Government to reconsider.

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