Truss Reportedly Plans to Label China ‘Acute Threat’ to Britain’s National Security
© AP Photo / VICTORIA CALAGUIANBritish seamen fix guided missiles on board the HMS Illustrious, the most up-to-date aircraft carrier and command ship in the British Royal Navy which arrived in Manila (File)
© AP Photo / VICTORIA CALAGUIAN
The foreign secretary, currently the frontrunner in the race to replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party, recently summoned China’s ambassador to Britain after blaming Beijing for an “aggressive and wide-ranging escalation” in Taiwan. Beijing has urged London and other Western countries to stop meddling in China’s internal affairs.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss plans to declare China an “acute threat” to Britain’s national security, The Times has reported, citing ‘allies’ said to be familiar with the situation.
The proposed new status would give the Asian nation the same standing as Russia in an updated Integrated Review, a key government policy paper published in 2021 outlining the UK’s security, defense, development and foreign policy.
In last year’s review, Russia was defined as “the most acute threat to [Britain’s] security” in its Euro-Atlantic “home region,” while China was only defined as a “systemic competitor” due to its “increasing power and international assertiveness,” and the “growing impact on many aspects of our lives as it becomes more powerful in the world.”
“We will continue to pursue a positive trade and investment relationship with China, while ensuring our national security and values are protected. We will also cooperate with China in tackling transnational challenges such as climate change,” the 2021 document stated.
Truss’s plans run in stark contrast to those of Rishi Sunak, former chancellor of the exchequer, who is the foreign secretary’s only remaining opponent in the Tory leadership race, which is expected to wrap up next week. Last month, UK media reported on leaked documents citing Sunak’s plans to pen a trade agreement which would make Britain a “market of choice” for Chinese businesses.
“There will be no more economic partnerships. That was all meant to be suspended after Hong Kong,” a Truss ally told The Times of Sunak’s scheme, referring to the 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests.
Truss, 47, is one of the few members of the Johnson government who didn’t flee the sinking ship as Boris Johnson resigned last month in the face of a series of scandals.
In office as foreign secretary since September 2021, Truss has faced heat over a string of embarrassing and potentially dangerous gaffes. Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on alert after Truss threatened to get NATO involved in the security crisis in Ukraine. Before that, Russian officials slammed Truss after she amusingly refused to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the regions of Voronezh and Rostov. Before that, she became the butt of jokes online after promising that Britain would support “our Baltic allies across the Black Sea” – two different maritime regions separated by more than 1,200 km of landmass.
Truss has sought to sharpen her anti-China mettle in recent weeks. On August 10, she instructed the Foreign Office to summon Zheng Zeguang, China’s ambassador to the UK, to blast Beijing and accuse the People’s Republic of an “aggressive and wide-ranging escalation” in Taiwan.
The rebuke came after the People’s Liberation Army launched a series of large-scale wargames over the island in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s provocative visit to the island, which Beijing considers Chinese territory destined for eventual reunification with the mainland. China has repeatedly called on Western powers to refrain from meddling in its internal affairs, including as far as Taiwan is concerned.