China an ‘epoch-defining challenge’ to security

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Rishi Sunak: Rishi Sunak said the UK will continue working with Beijing on issues like climate change, but insisted that his government would work with allies to “push back” against China when necessary.

China poses an “an epoch-defining challenge” to international order, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, launching a wide-ranging review of British policy that left some members of his own party disappointed at a failure to brand Beijing a strategic security threat.

Sunak said the UK will continue working with Beijing on issues like climate change, but insisted that his government would work with allies to “push back” against China when necessary.

The so-called integrated review said China’s policies have “implications for almost every area of government policy and the everyday lives of British people.”

The UK is particularly concerned about what it describes as China’s “disregard” for universal human rights, from Tibet and Xinjiang to Hong Kong, as well as its “rapid and opaque” military modernization and refusal to renounce the use of force over Taiwan.

Still, the review stopped short of explicitly labeling China a “threat.” The UK doesn’t believe its relationship with China is set on a “predetermined course,” and future cooperation would hinge on whether China pursues greater authoritarianism and assertiveness overseas, the review said.

“Where there are attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to coerce or create dependencies, we will work closely with others to push back against them,” Sunak said in the review’s opening remarks.

Sunak’s spokesman Jamie Davies later described China as the “biggest state-based threat to UK economic security.”

By describing China as a challenge rather than a threat beyond economic security, Sunak overlooked lobbying from some senior members of his own governing Conservative Party.