UK Secretary of State for Business, Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng has urged Britain not to “write whole countries off” when it comes to trade, despite concerns over human rights violation.
His comment comes after Prime Minister, Boris Johnson warned against a “new Cold War on China”, as MPs raised concerns over Beijing’s human rights abuse in Hong Kong and against Uighurs in Xianjing.
The PM has been under pressure from senior Conservative MPs and has being accused of “naivety” in Britain’s relationship with China.
Also, a leaked audio revealed that Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab has told officials that the UK should strike trade deals with countries. Even if they do not meet European standards on human rights.
Addressing the issue, Hon. Kwarteng said that he agreed with the foreign minister. He posited that while “there are serious issues” with China, the UK has “made representations to treat people fairly and observe standards in human rights.
“But what we can’t do is write whole countries off and refuse to engage while telling them how to run their own countries.”Hon. Kwarteng
What Mr Raab said
During a question-and-answer session with Foreign Office staff, Mr Raab suggested that the UK should trade “liberally around the world.”
“I squarely believe we ought to be trading liberally around the world. If we restrict it to countries with ECHR-level standards of human rights, we’re not going to do many trade deals with the growth markets of the future.Extract from leaked Dominic Raab audio
The audio was however leaked and published by the HuffPost website. In the wake of the leak, the Foreign Office argued the remarks had been misrepresented. The office therefore shared more of Mr Raab’s comments.
“There’ll be moments… I can think of behaviour that would cross the line and render a country beyond the pale.
“But fundamentally I’m a big believer in engaging to try and exert positive influence even if it’s only a moderating influence. And I hope that calibrated approach gives you a sense that it’s not just words. We back it up with action.”Extract- Dominic Raab Audio from Foreign Office
Earlier this week, a publication of UK’s review of foreign, defence and security policy, described Beijing as a “systematic challenge”. It however added that the UK would pursue “deeper trade links” with China.
Hon. Kwarteng agreed with the publication and pointed to “lots of Chinese investments coming into the country.”
“We are attracting Chinese investment. If you go to a city like Sheffield, you’ll see lots of Chinese investment coming into this country.
“But you’ve got to distinguish between investors, private citizens, people that we trade with and actual governments.”
He revealed that the UK ambassador in China “has made really strong representations to the Chinese government about their behaviour”
“We’ve said we don’t find this remotely acceptable and we’re trying to make international cause, alliances, to make those representations to the Chinese government. We’re absolutely very firm on that.”