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Tory new prime minister candidates’ China policy: profits over people

In less than three years into his tenure as British prime minister, Johnson and his cronies have had a succession of corruption, nepotism, abuse of power and malfeasance scandals. The Conservatives lost in both the local elections in May and the key parliamentary by-election in June, with more than 40 ministers in the government cabinet resigning, showing they would cut ties with Johnson to keep their seats as MPs in the 2024 general election. Johnson himself was forced to resign as prime minister in early July, and the race for a new prime minister began within the Conservative Party. The final round is now underway, leaving only recently resigned Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and incumbent Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Secretary Liz Truss, both of whom campaigned on Britain's relations with China. Sunak claimed he would ban all 30 of China's Confucius Institutes in the UK if elected, while Truss declared she would crack down on the Chinese-owned social media giant ByteDance as well as tying with Commonwealth nations counter China's “growing malign influence”. Do these two Tory candidates' competing statements mean that Britain's policy towards China will change?

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Manipulated Overseas Chameleon Mechanism and the Deliberate Avoidance of British Foreign Policy

After World War II, British foreign policy followed the United States for most of its time. Since the CCP implemented economic opening up, Britain has formulated a foreign policy of using China's economic development to gain benefits, and the CCP's influence on Britain has also kept increasing. Due to the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, the UK's diplomatic balance has receded in favour of the US.


U.S. colleges and universities have announced in recent years that they have closed about 100 Confucius Institutes (CIs), but many of the closed CIs have been little more than renamed, and the Hanban, the governing body of the CIs, has changed its name to the Chinese International Education Foundation describing itself as a non-profit charitable organisation. These U.S. colleges and universities continue to receive funding from CCP-controlled institutions, censorship at the request of the CCP, and restrictions on criticism of CCP policies. In addition, in response to the U.S. community's demand for investigation and accountability for Jitterbug's intrusion into personal data, ByteDance has increased its spending to lobby the U.S. government and Congress to continue collecting relevant data and circumvent penalties.

Already the largest number of Confucius Institutes in the world, the UK's privacy protection laws still rely heavily on companies to develop their own measures. The UK lacks the investigations and public discussions that have taken place in the US in recent years about Confucius Institutes undermining academic freedom and ByteDance violating personal privacy, making it more difficult to discern the CCP's foreign chameleon strategy. The two Conservative candidates' policies toward China are more like echoes of U.S. diplomatic rhetoric and do not propose effective measures to protect academic freedom and privacy, let alone criticize the pragmatic tendencies and priority of profits in more than 70 years of British diplomacy with China, or suggest how the British government's policies toward China can be transparent to the public.

Priority of Interests over Human Rights in British Policy Towards China Remains Unchangeable 

The best way to see the true orientation of Sunac's and Truss's policies toward China is to look back at their involvement in the record of relations with China

In early 2021, the House of Commons of the British Parliament will discuss the Prevention of Genocide Amendment Clause in the UK Trade Bill, which will empower the High Court of England and Wales to accept requests from victims and lawyers representing them to hear lawsuits for genocide in the relevant countries, and the court will have the power to determine that the British government must delay or withdraw trade agreements with countries where genocide is being practiced.

Because of the CCP's refusal to accede to the Rome Statute, international mechanisms are unable to investigate and hold accountable the massive ongoing CCP violations of the rights of the Uighur and other Turkic Muslim peoples. the Prevention of Genocide Amendment Clause allows for a relatively independent British judicial mechanism to step in to investigate and hold governments accountable for systemic criminal conduct.

Both Sunak and Truss opposed this clause in order to safeguard the British government's foreign policy of prioritizing trade interests over human rights. Because the Conservatives held a majority in the House of Commons, the genocide investigation by judicial process provision was eventually removed from the Trade Bill. Both Sunnucks and Truss's campaigns avoided taking practical steps to address ongoing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by the CCP or other regimes.

The Privileged Class in the UK Dominates the Policy Towards China

Although the two Conservative candidates differed in their endorsement of Thatcher's policies, there was no essential difference in their profit-oriented policies, which actually benefited the owners of large companies and other elite groups. The result is not that the money goes into the "people's pockets" as the two candidates claim, but that the owners of large companies and other elites enrich themselves, and in this way these elites can continue to dominate the policy towards China.

The UK has lacked mechanisms to hold accountable for sacrificing rights in the UK-China deal. From 1971 onwards, the British government have sacrified the Hong Kong people's right to self-determination, and soon after the June 4 massacre, the British elite, including the 48 Group Club, established a closer network of interest deals with the CCP, profited heavily in the Chinese market, and participated in the suppression of labour rights under CCP rule. The British elite has ignored the CCP's repression of the Hong Kong democracy movement for nearly a decade and lacked meaningful action following the implementation of Hong Kong's national security laws.

The document Sunak signed recently indicates a desire to “deepen trade links” with Beijing, still continuing the tone of the “golden age of UK–China relations”, where trade and investment take precedence over human rights. Truss was Justice Secretary in 2016, whose main policy was to cut legal aid and impose huge fees on plaintiffs, becoming a dead letter for the process for civilians to sue the British government and large companies for trading with the CCP at the expense of human rights, and allowing government and police privilege to override laws that guarantee the right to peaceful protests.

If Truss insists on reducing taxes on windfall profits made by large corporations as well as drastically cutting foreign aid, her "New Deal for the Commonwealth", which appears to be derived from the magic money tree imagined by the previous British governments, will be just another blank check. Both Truss and Sunak promised to send refugees from all over the world (including Commonwealth countries) who flee to Britain to Rwanda. Just a reminder of the brutal and barbaric side during the rise and fall in British Empire.

Opportunists and Profit-Driven Hawks And Doves

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of barriers for UK citizens to demand government disclosure of information. The government agencies that Sunak and Truss work for are no exception. When citizens send FOI requests about these government agencies’ trade and economic dealings with the CCP that result in restrictions on their rights, these agencies commonly respond by either “damaging the public interest and UK-China relations or exempt from disclosure”1] Covering up these issues is unlikely to make the public aware of the internal dealings of the British government's China policy.

Politicians running for Prime Minister in the Conservative Party have been labelled as hawks on China by many in the mainstream media on the basis that these individuals have verbally committed to a tougher policy towards China than their predecessors. Both hawks and doves are two sides of the same coin that prioritise the interests of elite groups, and opportunistic verbal hard-line hawks and doves are not uncommon in the over 70 years of history with China. Such politicians sometimes use rhetoric that appears to be at odds with the CCP, and denunciations of the CCP are often accompanied by a racial superiority complex of white supremacy. However, these politicians, funded by economic tycoons and often guided by the interests of the CCP, have conspired to suppress human rights and democracy movement under CCP rule, while impeding the continued democratisation of representative democracy and leading to a lowering of human rights standards, creating a race to the bottom between CCP doctorship and British privilege racing to the bottom.


[1] I have sent FOI requests from 2016 to different UK government agencies for disclosure of information, mainly focusing on minutes and related information from meetings where Chinese and British officials discussed restrictions on the right to demonstrate peacefully during Xi Jinping's visit to the UK in 2015, summary of Home Office, City of London Police, Metropolitan Police response:

In 2020, I learned from the IOPC report that before and during Xi Jinping's visit to the UK, British and Chinese officials discussed restrictions on the right to peaceful demonstrations, and that the UK Foreign Office was involved in related meetings. I sent the FOI requests for the minutes in these meetings and related information. The FCDO responded with "exempt from disclosure" or flagged my question as " not valid for the purpose of the Act".

IOPC Final report

IOPC Summary of determinations and final outcomes

Statement on the IOPC’s Final Report 关于英国监警会报告的声明:





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