Security minister Tom Tugendhat has said he is going to be “holding” the government to account to ensure it does not go soft on China.
Tugendhat is in the government.
But the prime minister has angered many hawkish Tory backbenchers by stopping short of branding China as a “threat”.
In an interview with ITV’s Peston programme, Tugendhat was asked if Sunak had gone “soft” on the Chinese regime.
“I don’t think he has. I think what he has done is set out a pragmatic approach to dealing with China,” Tugendhat said. “And you can be assured it’s something I’m going to be holding this government to.
“I’ve been very clear on my position on China for many years now.”
Tugendhat attends cabinet and has wide ranging responsibilities including combating cyber security and response to state threats.
Asked whether CCTV cameras produced by China and already installed across the UK would be removed, he said: “I’m pushing the government to make sure we do get rid of them.”
He was also pressed on whether the government might consider new sanctions on China amid a wave of protests against strict Covid lockdown rules.
“I very much hope that the Foreign Office is watching very closely and is going to take action on this,” he said.
“The Foreign Office has got a responsibility to supervise what’s going on within China.
“That’s, I’m afraid, not my remit. I hope that’s exactly what they are doing.”
Before being handed a ministerial job by Sunak, Tugendhat was chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee which scrutinised the work of the Foreign Office.
He also briefly stood in the Tory leadership race in the summer when Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister.