Advertisement

Liz Truss warns against appeasement of China in apparent swipe at Lord Cameron

Former prime minister Liz Truss
Liz Truss planned to officially designate China as a 'threat' to the UK

Liz Truss has said there has been “far too much appeasement” of China in an apparent swipe at the appointment of Lord Cameron as Foreign Secretary.

The former prime minister said the UK’s approach to Beijing was being driven by “short-termist business interests” rather than national security.

She added that ministers were “kidding ourselves” if they believed that President Xi Jinping had a benign attitude towards liberal Western democracies.

“If we keep doing deals with China, if we keep exporting more to China and getting more Chinese investment into the UK, that is ultimately leverage that can be used against us,” she told students in Oxford.

“And President Xi does not want a world where freedom and democracy prevail.”

Ms Truss made the remarks, first reported by the Politico website, at a gathering of the Oxford University Conservative Association on Nov 24.

Lord Cameron, who as prime minister heralded a “golden era” in UK-China relations, was appointed as Foreign Secretary 10 days earlier.

He oversaw a period of closer ties with Beijing that his successors in Downing Street have tried to unpick over growing national security concerns.

A ‘systemic challenge’ rather than a ‘threat’

Boris Johnson banned mobile phone firm Huawei from providing 5G infrastructure and said all its technology must be stripped from the network by 2027.

Rishi Sunak meanwhile toughened up security measures on removing Chinese made surveillance equipment like security cameras from sensitive sites.

But he has also been accused of taking a softer line than Ms Truss, who as prime minister planned to officially designate Beijing as a “threat” to the UK.

He instead labelled the country a “systemic challenge” and has said Britain must work with it on globally significant issues like climate change.

Last week, Mr Sunak defended Lord Cameron’s record and said that he recognised “that China today is not the China that he dealt with over a decade ago”.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the Global Investment Summit, he added: “It has changed, it’s right that our strategy evolves to take account of that.”