James Forsyth

Brits want a tougher line on China

Brits want a tougher line on China
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The scenes in Hong Kong are hugely depressing. The authorities are already using the new Beijing-imposed national security law to clamp down on dissent. The UK now has a moral duty to offer what help it can to those holders of British National Overseas passports.

What is happening in Hong Kong reinforces the need for the UK to become less dependent on China. The government is beginning to take steps to do that, as I revealed back in May. 

But a new poll for the China Research Group shows that the public is already there. Some 72 per cent of voters are prepared to pay more for medical and telecoms equipment if that leads to greater national resilience. While 55 per cent of voters want government to block investment in British universities that’ll lead to the loss of key technologies and only 17 per cent of voters support allowing Huawei a role in the construction of the UK’s 5G network. By a 58 to 7 per cent margin, the public want democratic countries to work more closely together to counter the economic and strategic power of China.

The scenes in Hong Kong are a reminder that the more powerful China becomes, the less it will respect its treaty commitment. The democratic world needs to start acting in concert to counter the Chinese threat to the rules-based order.