George Osborne hits back in Tory civil war over China as he praises Boris Johnson for ‘seeing off the hotheads’ who want a ‘Cold War with Beijing’
- George Osborne today hit back in the Tory civil war over relations with China
- Praised Boris Johnson for ‘seeing off hotheads’ who want ‘Cold War’ with Beijing
- Said he sees ‘a lot of continuity’ with PM’s plan and his old ‘golden era’ approach
- Review by PM calls for ‘deeper trade links’ but warns China is a ‘systemic’ threat
George Osborne today hit back in the Tory civil war over China as he praised Boris Johnson for ‘seeing off the hotheads’ who he claimed want to start a ‘new Cold War’ with Beijing.
The ex-chancellor said he sees ‘a lot of continuity’ between the Prime Minister’s new strategy for relations with China, published yesterday, and the ‘golden era’ approach he took when he was in power.
Mr Osborne said the PM ‘should be congratulated’ for facing down Conservative hawks who are demanding the Government take a tougher stance against China.
His comments are likely to pour fuel on the fire as Mr Johnson faces a growing Tory revolt over his Integrated Review.
The security document calls for ‘deeper trade links’ with China despite also admitting it is a ‘systemic’ threat to the West.
George Osborne today hit back in the Tory civil war over China as he praised Boris Johnson for ‘seeing off the hotheads’ who he claimed want to start a ‘new Cold War’ with Beijing
Some Tory MPs believe the PM’s new Integrated Review is too soft on China and want the Government to take a tougher approach
Tory defence select committee chief Tobias Ellwood said he had hoped Mr Johnson would take the opportunity to ‘call out’ China for the ‘geo-strategic threat it is’.
Intelligence committee chair Julian Lewis warned the ‘grasping naivety of the Cameron-Osborne years’ towards China ‘still lingers’ in some departments.
Mr Osborne had promised a ‘golden era for the UK-China relationship’ when he was in power and said the two nations should ‘stick together’.
Today he told the House of Lords’ International Relations and Defence Committee that he believes Mr Johnson is correct to recognise the ‘threat’ posed by China while also seeking to ‘engage’ with the country.
He said: ‘China is changing, becoming more assertive, but the question of how you deal with it has not changed.
‘And that to me is why I think Boris Johnson should be congratulated for seeing off the hotheads who want to launch some new Cold War with China and instead promoting an approach that is realistic about the threat that China poses but also wants to engage in the opportunity.
‘Talks about increasing trade, talks about increasing investment from China and essentially tries to co-opt China rather than confront China and to me that was the approach back then and it is the approach today.’
Mr Osborne said he believed his approach of ‘engaging with China in a more meaningful and deeper relationship that recognised the threat but also sought to try and co-opt China into the international order’ was ‘realistic’.
He added: ‘It was a deeper relationship and frankly reading the Government’s security document that they published yesterday, I see a lot of continuity in what is being proposed now and I very much welcome that.’
Mr Osborne said there ‘have been things that China has done that are not acceptable’ as he mentioned interference in Hong Kong and ‘suppression’ of the Uighur people in Xinjiang province.
He said many issues of concern were frequently raised with Beijing during the years of the Coalition Government.
He added: ‘What has not changed is the question of what do you do about this situation.’
Mr Johnson’s security review adopted a much softer tone on China than to Russia, saying that although it is an ‘authoritarian state’ it will be ‘an increasingly important partner’.
Mr Johnson told MPs that the Government had been at the forefront of criticising Beijing over human rights abuses.
‘There is no question that China will pose a great challenge for an open society such as ours,’ he said. ‘But we will also work with China where that is consistent with our values and interests.’
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