THE United Kingdom and the world will be changed for ever by our experiences of the coronavirus pandemic – the effect on our collective psyche every bit as profound, some say, as that of 9/11 or the fall of the Berlin Wall. Arguably it needs to be, especially with regard to recalibrating our relations with China.
As we emerge out of the pandemic into a post-Covid-19 world, there was never more need for bold, courageous and robust leadership.
If Boris Johnson is to provide this – we sincerely hope he will – it must be based on an unambiguous acceptance of the truth, which is that the Communist regime in Beijing is culpable both for this pandemic and the world economic catastrophe.
By spreading disinformation to deflect from its responsibility and withholding information, it has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and millions more their livelihoods.
The even more inconvenient truth is that this Conservative government has until now been unwilling or unable to confront this awful regime in any meaningful way.
Where we have needed a champion of British interests, in the mould of Mrs Thatcher or Lord Palmerston, we have instead seen a frustratingly mute Cabinet and ever-increasing access for hostile Chinese interests in the United Kingdom over the last few years. This has to stop immediately.
The Communist authorities in China spent crucial months covering up the emergence of the disease. Doctors who raised the alarm were either forced to recant, mysteriously disappeared or have since died. Instead of raising awareness of this growing crisis, the rest of the world was denied the vital information it needed to prepare adequately for the developing pandemic.
The question is, how does the United Kingdom react to Communist China now that its leaders have been exposed as acting in bad faith?
What is clear is that the current approach of appeasement must change. We cannot continue to make the easy choice of trading our principles for money. Our government has conveniently ignored the genocide of the ethnic minority Uyghurs, persecution of Christians and the brutal crushing of young pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, all so that state-directed Chinese companies can invest in the United Kingdom’s economy.
To reverse this policy of appeasement, we need bravery from our political leaders. Luckily, our government has already been shown a model by a group of its MPs.
On March 10, Conservatives led by Sir Iain Duncan Smith rebelled against the Government over its insistence on continued appeasement of China by allowing Huawei – described as a high-risk vendor by our National Cyber Security Centre – to have access to our 5G infrastructure.
By accepting the one-line amendment ‘the operator does not, after 31st December 2022, use vendors defined by the National Cyber Security Centre as high-risk vendor’, the Government would be making it clear that the current venal policy of everything being up for sale to China was at an end.
Inexplicably, the Government whipped against this amendment, and it was very disappointing that not one of the newly-elected tranche of Tory MPs, voted in on a platform of supposedly standing up for Britain’s national sovereignty, saw fit to support it. We call on Boris Johnson to accept the Huawei amendment as soon as Parliament is reconvened.
Although this rebellion was not enough to defeat the Government, it is the beginning of a dramatic shift in attitudes in Parliament not seen since the 1930s. More worryingly, it highlighted the level of appeasement of China that runs through the UK’s political, civil service and security establishments.
Why would Huawei, a company categorised as high-risk by our security services, be allowed anywhere near our 5G infrastructure?
The Covid-19 pandemic is starting to be a watershed moment in UK-China relations as the full extent of the regime’s culpability in the spread of misinformation regarding this disease is becoming clear.
One of the first things the Government needs to do is reassess our relationship with Communist China, starting with reviewing the access we allow Chinese companies to crucial parts of our economy.