Beijing to Britain

Integrated Review, George Osborne on Golden Era, Dominic Cummings on ARIA, new report on Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang

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Following the publication of the long-awaited Integrated Review, we have slightly tweaked our overview of the China-UK landscape in Westminster. We’re pleased that our original assessment looks to have been largely proven correct given the responses the Integrated Review has provoked.

The United Kingdom now has the starting point of a new ‘China Strategy’ - albeit a modest couple of pages in a much longer document, the Integrated Review, setting out the country’s foreign policy. Government will use this to attempt to align political behaviour with regards to Departments, and provide clarity to businesses operating between both countries.

This starting point on a strategy for China will continue to prove highly contentious. Political views will remain polarised, and those MPs active on China will likely push for further clarification.

The Review adds credence to our view that two loose schools of thought have emerged in Westminster. One calls for a fundamental reset of British relations with China, championing human rights over trade, and pushing for all engagement to be through a values-led approach. The other school pushes for a realpolitik approach; while the so-called ‘Golden Era’ may be over, it is better to keep China at the table through diplomacy and trade, even at the expense of human rights - without these, the UK has no leverage or bargaining chips.

The majority of China-centric politicians in the UK can roughly be placed into one of these schools, although their views often change depending on the issue at play. It’s worth noting that neither school believes that an enriched Chinese middle class will steer the country towards democracy. While the Government may pretend that is has strategised around the values-led approach advocated by the first school, it is the latter approach that it has chosen to embrace in a hybrid fashion, by portraying trade as a vehicle to hold China to account.

And so ‘Beijing to Britain’ was born - a weekly overview of the ebbs and flows of this discussion, and how it impacts politics, the private sector and society.

As always: tips, feedback, and your views to BeijingToBritain@protonmail.com.

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Politics

  • The Integrated Review

  • Golden Era Osborne

  • Cummings on ARIA

  • Chinese Embassy

Business

  • Supply Chains in Xinjiang

  • Barclays

  • Imagination Technologies

Society

  • A point to consider when writing about China


First, a quick look at this week for China in Parliament

  • 43 mentions of China

  • 0 mentions of Xi Jinping

  • 8 mentions of Hong Kong

  • 3 mentions of Uyghurs

  • 0 mentions of CCP

  • 11 mentions of Magnitsky

  • 589 out of 650 MPs (90.6%) have a Twitter account.



Who’s asking what?

Order! Order!

Some of the more notable questions asked of the Government this week

  • Andrew Rosindell asked “the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to undertake a risk assessment of increasing collaboration, through funding, between UK universities and China.”

  • Baroness D’Souza askedHer Majesty’s Government, further to reports of the government of China’s (1) treatment of Uighurs, and (2) incursions into Taiwanese airspace, what discussions they have had with other governments about what action can be taken in response.”



Spotted

The United States has sanctioned 24 Chinese officials involved in China’s failure “to meet its obligations under the Joint Declaration or the Basic Law” on Wednesday. This will likely pile pressure on the British Government to explain why it has not done the same, given it is the co-signatory to the Joint Declaration.

By the way - the EU is also set to announce a set of sanctions against a handful of Chinese officials in the near future.

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Politics

Integrated Review, Osborne on Golden Era, Cummings on ARIA, new Chinese Embassy

Jaw Jaw not War War

So there we have it. After months of delay and speculation, on Tuesday lunchtime the Government published the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR). Leaked to reporters the night before (naturally) and coming in at a healthy 114 pages, the IR mentions China 27 times, and the Indo-Pacific a further 32. It is presented as a realpolitik approach for engagement with the world’s second largest economy; arguing that in some areas, both countries will need to work together, while at the same time, the UK will continue to hold China to account on issues such as human rights.

Some initial thoughts to ponder before we browse the mentions of China in this report together:

  1. The Government seems content to view the current (in)action it’s taking in holding China to account through statements and the BN(O) scheme in Hong Kong as adequate, or as adequate as it needs to be to stem further Tory rebellion on the issue. Indeed, that it is taking action was a point stressed multiple times by the Prime Minister during his speech to launch the report, which we will come on to shortly. Some would say that the Government has found the perfect strategy it needs to ‘hold China to account’; issue statements as and when necessary condemning its behaviour, while continuing to pursue trade and investment opportunities.

  2. Xinjiang and Hong Kong are both mentioned twice, once in passing and once with slightly more detail. Given these are THE pressing issues for many of the China-sceptic MPs in Westminster, they will argue that this shows a lack of focus and lack of priority, and they will likely push the Government for further action on both and for an independent China Strategy. Worth noting that Johnson scheduled in time to call BN(O) Hong Kongers at the end of the week, perhaps to quell some of these accusations.

  3. Prior to the IR’s publication, the Government moved to cut foreign aid, citing intense financial restraints due to Covid-19. It’s unclear from this report just how the Government plans therefore to finance much of its vision for ‘Global Britain’. Which Department will be in charge of finding the significant amount of money needed to fund this vision? This time round, Britain will not be able to rely on the treasury of empire.

To the report…

On China’s place within the strategic framework

China: we will do more to adapt to China’s growing impact on many aspects of our lives as it becomes more powerful in the world. We will invest in enhanced Chinafacing capabilities, through which we will develop a better understanding of China and its people, while improving our ability to respond to the systemic challenge that it poses to our security, prosperity and values – and those of our allies and partners. We will continue to pursue a positive trade and investment relationship with China, while ensuring our national security and values are protected. We will also cooperate with China in tackling transnational challenges such as climate change.

On the nature and distribution of global power

Geopolitical and geoeconomic shifts: such as China’s increasing power and assertiveness internationally, the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific to global prosperity and security, and the emergence of new markets and growth of the global middle class.

On moving towards a multipolar world, and we should view other nations and theatres of action

China as a systemic competitor. China’s increasing power and international assertiveness is likely to be the most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s. The scale and reach of China’s economy, size of its population, technological advancement and increasing ambition to project its influence on the global stage, for example through the Belt and Road Initiative, will have profound implications worldwide. Open, trading economies like the UK will need to engage with China and remain open to Chinese trade and investment, but they must also protect themselves against practices that have an adverse effect on prosperity and security. Cooperation with China will also be vital in tackling transnational challenges, particularly climate change and biodiversity loss.

On China’s military growth

The significant impact of China’s military modernisation and growing international assertiveness within the Indo-Pacific region and beyond will pose an increasing risk to UK interests.

On soft power

The soft power landscape is changing. Those who challenge the values of open and democratic societies increasingly do so through culture: systemic competitors like Russia and China invest heavily in global cultural power projection and information operations.

And finally on how the UK will interact with China

China’s growing international stature is by far the most significant geopolitical factor in the world today, with major implications for British values and interests and for the structure and shape of the international order. The fact that China is an authoritarian state, with different values to ours, presents challenges for the UK and our allies. China will contribute more to global growth than any other country in the next decade with benefits to the global economy. China and the UK both benefit from bilateral trade and investment, but China also presents the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security.

We will require a robust diplomatic framework for this relationship that allows us to manage disagreements, defend our values and preserve space for cooperation where our interests align. China is an increasingly important partner in tackling global challenges like pandemic preparedness, biodiversity and climate change. We will continue to pursue a positive economic relationship, including deeper trade links and more Chinese investment in the UK. At the same time, we will increase protection of our CNI, institutions and sensitive technology, and strengthen the resilience of our critical supply chains, so that we can engage with confidence. We will not hesitate to stand up for our values and our interests where they are threatened, or when China acts in breach of existing agreements. The UK has responded to China’s actions in Hong Kong by creating a new immigration route for British Nationals (Overseas) and their eligible family members and dependents, and to China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang through measures to ensure that British organisations are neither complicit in nor profiting from them.

In the ensuing debate in the House of Commons, China was mentioned a further 19 times. Speaking on the matter, the Prime Minister said:

We shall stand up for our values, as well as for our interests, and here I commend the vigilance and dedication of hon. Members from all parties, because the UK, with the wholehearted support of this whole House, has led the international community in expressing our deep concern over China’s mass detention of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province, and in giving nearly three million of Hong Kong’s people a route to British citizenship.

There is no question that China will pose a great challenge for an open society such as ours, but we will also work with China where that is consistent with our values and interests, including in building a stronger and positive economic relationship and in addressing climate change.

In reply, leader of the opposition Kier Starmer noted in his speech that:

The integrated review talks about the importance of upholding international law, I agree, but from Europe to the Indian Ocean, this Government now have a reputation for breaking international law, not defending it. We welcome the deepening of engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, but that comes on the back of an inconsistent policy towards China for a decade. Conservative Governments have spent 10 years turning a blind eye to human rights abuses while inviting China to help build our infrastructure. That basic inconsistency is now catching up with them.

Tobias Ellwood, Chair of the Defence Committee said:

There is a 1930s feel to the scale of challenges that we face today, with rising authoritarian powers, weak global institutions, and an absence of western leadership and collective resolve. I was hoping for a Fulton, Missouri moment when we finally call out China for the geo-strategic threat that it is, and a commitment to our aid budget. I do hope that the Prime Minister will summon that Atlantic charter spirit of working together with our closest ally, the United States, to strengthen the rules-based order, such as advancing the G7 to the G10, which could form the backbone for revising the trade and security standards that our ever-dangerous world so desperately needs.

To which Johnson replied:

I must say that I think there is a balance to be struck, because, after all, we have a strong trading relationship with China worth about £81 billion. China is the second largest economy in the world and a fact of our lives, and we must accept that fact in a clear-eyed way. But we also have to be tough where we see risk. That is why this Government have brought in the National Security and Investment Bill to protect our intellectual property. That is why we are protecting our critical national infrastructure. That is why my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has done more than virtually any other Foreign Secretary around the world to call out what China is doing in Xinjiang. That is why this Government have offered a place—a refuge and abode—to 3 million Hong Kong Chinese who may be in fear of persecution as a result of what is happening in Hong Kong. This Government take a very, very clear-eyed approach to what is happening in China. It is a balanced approach and one that I think the British people understand.

Later, Julian Lewis, who Chairs the, Intelligence and Security Committee, asked

Although there are strong analytical aspects to this review, it is suggested on pages 62 to 63 that our adversary, communist China,

“is an increasingly important partner in tackling global challenges like pandemic preparedness”— if you please—and that we want

“deeper trade links and more Chinese investment in the UK.”

Does not that unfortunately demonstrate that the grasping naivety of the Cameron-Osborne years still lingers on in some Departments of State?

In reply, the Prime Minister said:

Those who call for a new cold war on China or for us to sequester our economy entirely from China, which would seem to be the new policy of the Opposition, weaving, as they generally do, from one position to the next, are, I think, mistaken. We have a balance to strike and we need to have a clear-eyed relationship with China. Of course we are protecting our critical national infrastructure, and we will continue to do that, and we will make sure that through the National Security and Investment Bill we protect our intellectual property. We will take tough measures, as I have said, to call out China for what it is doing in Xinjiang. There is no one around the world who has done more on that matter than my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary or this Government, and we will continue to do that. Companies that profit from trade in forced labour will not be allowed to do so in this country. I think the whole House should be very proud of what we are doing.

Former Foreign Secretary and one-time potential Conservative leader Jeremy Hunt added:

I recognise how difficult it is to do one during a pandemic. I am worried about designating China simply as a systemic challenge, given the terrible events in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Will the Prime Minister keep that under review? 

Johnson replied:

Yes indeed, my right hon. Friend is right in what he says about the ODA commitment and right in what he says about China. Of course we will keep that under review, although, as I said, the balance has to be struck.

Chris Bryant, IPAC and Foreign Affairs Committee member, stated:

Dealing with authoritarian regimes around the world, especially those that do not want to play by the rules, is always complicated and difficult. I understand that, but we have to be consistent, coherent, determined and brutally tough when we need to be. What I do not understand, in relation to Russia and to China, is why the Government still refuse to declare what is happening in the Xinjiang province as genocide, why they have used every power to try to prevent Parliament from coming to a determination on that, why we will still not use the Magnitsky sanctions—which I applaud the Foreign Secretary for having introduced in the first place—against Carrie Lam for what is happening in Hong Kong, and why we still refuse to do enough about the dirty Russian money that is imperilling our financial transparency in the City of London and in our overseas territories.

And the Prime Minister replied:

As the House has heard many times, it is up to a competent court to determine whether genocide has taken place. We have consistently called out what has happened in Xinjiang, and what continues to happen. As for the use of Magnitsky sanctions, actually they have been used by this Government against Russia for what it did, and by the way, at that time, Labour Front Benchers, including the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras, were sitting like great squatting Buddhas, immobile, while the then Labour leader was effectively endorsing the line from the Kremlin.

It’s also worth reading closely the speech Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab delivered the following day at the Aspen Security Conference. Titled ‘A Force for Good in a Competitive Age’, one specific area stood out to us:

In Africa, our offer will be grounded in the need to provide a more compelling alternative to some of the less scrupulous governments who exact a punitive long-term price for short term investments in things like infrastructure.

Put very simply, our offer to Africa will be more liberal on free trade than the EU, do business with greater integrity than the Chinese or Russians, and we’re committed to serve as a force for good in the communities in which we invest.

Some MPs responses on Twitter worth skimming:

Back to Westminster, where problems arrived for the Government almost immediately following the debate, as a Huffington Post journalist shared a secretly recorded clip of the Foreign Secretary telling staff:

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.

In response, the FCDO clarified that comment had appeared out of context, with the journalist replying to his own tweet to say:

Note the difference - 2,200 retweets on the first, 42 on the second. The fuller quote from Raab is said to have been this:

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. There will be moments, and 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.

Speaking the following day, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added:

We should be trading with countries, but at the same time we've got to make very strong representations, as we do, when we think countries are mistreating minorities, using torture and not sharing our values.

But what we can't do is write whole countries off and refuse to engage while telling them how to run their own countries.

The Government will likely have been displeased by the coverage of the IR in the right-leaning newspapers. As Alex Wickham notes in his Politico brief:

Most … sort of welcome the review but machine-gun its China and nukes policies. Larisa Brown’s report on the “anger” of Tory MPs splashes the Times, which also carries an op-ed by former MI6 chief Alex Younger branding China a “generational threat.” The Mail’s Jason Groves has a classic double-page spread headlined “Britain kowtows to China,” and the Telegraph’s Lucy Fisher also leads on the Tory disquiet. Interestingly, the Sun’s leader says the paper “struggles” with the position on China and also opposes the expansion of Britain’s nuclear arsenal. The Times also warns it could “contribute to nuclear proliferation.”

What does China think? CGTN has an op-ed from Andrew Korybko, an American political analyst based in Moscow (naturally), which was retweeted by Minister at the Chinese Embassy Ma Hui:

If the UK sticks to the Integrated Review's script and schizophrenically tries to improve economic ties with China in parallel with seeking its implied containment in coordination with the Quad, then Chinese-UK relations won't improve. London needs to look inward and deeply reflect on the insecurities in its national psyche that are influencing it to falsely portray Beijing as a "systemic challenge" and other such inaccurate depictions that it knows very well are false. The problem isn't China, it's the UK's own post-Brexit identity crisis, which it must focus on fixing first. 

A Global Times piece added:

Yet the "immature" policy decision, originating from London's fantasy of reviving its past glory as a world superpower, not only downgrades itself as a toady of the US, also exposes the UK's over-optimism of its current international status, observers opined. 

Observers noted that downgrading itself to little more than a "toady" of the US may backfire on London, as if it entangles itself in the China-US competition and damages Beijing's core interests, it will meet fierce retaliation from China. 

Last thing - another outing for Minister Yang Xiaoguang, Chargé d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, who seems to be acting Ambassador while we wait for Zheng Zeguang to arrive. Yang interviewed live on Sky News to discuss the review.

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Reminiscing over the Golden Era

On Wednesday, architect of the Golden Era and former Chancellor George Osborne appeared before the International Relations and Defence Committee to discuss the UK’s security and trade relationship with China. Although it has become somewhat fashionable to criticise Osborne as of late, in his prime he was viewed by many as a political behemoth, capable of strategic thinking on a level that alluded many of this peers. His views are therefore of particular interest, whether one agrees with them or not.

In a wide ranging conversation, Osborne touched on the thinking behind his version of engagement with China, pointing out that it shared many parallels with the strategies outlined in the Integrated Review.

I think the central challenge was the same challenge we face today, which was as a part of the Coalition Government how do you deal with the geopolitical challenge of the re-rise of China, which is on course to be once again the largest economy in the world, the longest enduring civilisation in the world, and yet clearly also an authoritarian system of Government that engages in human rights abuse.

[David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne] we wanted to find a way 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, which had not been present at the creation of but which we felt a key interest in sustaining. And that was the approach; I think it was realistic, it understood that many of the world's biggest challenges like climate change or biodiversity loss were not going to be solved without the engagement of China. It was also recognition shortly after the banking crisis that China played an absolutely key part in keeping the world economy going during that period, and that there was a way for Britain to have something more than a simply transactional relationship with China, that there was a way to have something that was as I say was more on a deeper level, whilst at the same time understanding the cyber threat, potential military threats, human rights abuses. So it was a deeper relationship and frankly reading the Government's security document that was published yesterday I see a lot of continuity in what is being proposed now and I very much welcome that.

The former Chancellor went on to criticise those he perceived as “the hotheads who want to launch some new Cold War with China."

To me that it was Boris Johnson should be congratulated for seeing off the hot heads 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.

Appearing before the same Committee the following day was Mark Sedwill; freelance journalist Sam Dunning documented it here.

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Aria hearing this?

For a man with apparent eyesight issues, Dominic Cummings gives off a strong impression of being able to see far into the future. So it was as he appeared before the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee this week, chastising the Government for underfunding research and development across the sciences (transcript here.)

In a session which looked to examine the UK’s soon to be launched Advanced Research & Invention Agency (ARIA) and science as a whole in the UK, China was mentioned 11 times. The brain of Vote Leave set out a case for higher Government investing in key scientific industries. Private sector companies operating in the sector may want to take note of the language he uses throughout, should they be contemplating how to pitch for some of ARIA’s £800m secret funding.

The Government should be spending proportionately at least as much as the countries around the world that are doing the most on this, places like Korea, China, et cetera. Instead of languishing at the bottom of the G7 or G20 lists, we should be aspiring to be at the top of those lists. I stress that how the money is spent is even more important than just increasing the amount of money.

It is obvious that places like China and Korea are taking science and technology much more seriously than Britain has done over the last 10 years. It is obvious that David Cameron and George Osborne did not take this remotely as seriously as they should have done. They did not fund it as seriously as they should have done, and we have paid a price in all sorts of ways, in my opinion, for their terrible decisions.

Now we have a situation where China has said it is going to spend vast amounts of money over the next 20 years, particularly on things like AI. The Biden Administration are reversing Trump’s trajectory and are saying they are going to spend a huge amount of money as well. There is going to be a lot of pressure on Britain. There will be pressure on where great talent will go. To some extent, British science benefited from Trump in that people were looking to get out of that system and did not have confidence in it long term. Some people came over here from the States. Now with what Biden is doing, the opposite gravitational pull could potentially come into effect.

Britain obviously cannot match pound for pound what China and America are spending, but I go back to my chart earlier on. Almost all of what they are spending is in this red circle. If Britain decides to do things differently, it could have very dramatic improvements. This is not my theory. This is demonstrated historically. We know that if you do it differently you can capture these great returns. We should be looking to spend proportionately at least as much money as the countries that are most aggressive about this on the face of the planet. We should also be more aggressive than them in terms of attacking bureaucracy and trying new ideas.

….

What China and other countries are doing about making science and technology core to their policy is not the way that Britain has thought about it for about the last 50 years, which is as a kind of add-on. It is what the boffins do in white coats, but it is certainly not what serious politicians think about or what the top mandarins in the Cabinet Office think about. I think that mindset has been amazingly damaging for the country. It means that we have not funded things properly and we have not taken seriously things we should have taken seriously. I hope that one of the lessons of 2020 is to change course from that.

If you look at the President of China, he sits down for days on end with senior management around him and has sessions on things like funding edge-of-the-art science and technology programmes for the long term. If we do not pay attention to that, we will suffer enormously. Also, China and Russia have had extremely aggressive operations against this country to acquire British knowledge, both legally and illegally, overtly and covertly, because these countries take it deadly seriously. Cameron and Osborne did not take it deadly seriously, and in all sorts of ways they left the country open and vulnerable. That is one of the many areas in which I think science and technology policy must change.

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Odds and ends

  • Readers will remember the ongoing battle around the new Chinese Embassy, due to be built on the site of the old Royal Mint, which falls under the remit of Tower Hamlets Council. The latest development reported by the South China Morning Post comes in the form of a motion, backed by the Council, which will see streets around the Embassy renamed to Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong Road, Uighur Court and Tibet Hill. The one catch from the Council is that it has to cost nothing. The other thing to consider, not mentioned in the article, is that the UK is currently in the process of trying to build its own new Embassy in Beijing.

  • Nearly 30,000 Hong Kongers have applied to move to the UK, reports Louise Moon in the Telegraph

  • Interesting debate in the House of Commons this week on critical minerals, proposed by Alexander Stafford, who also chairs the APPG on the same topic. China was mentioned 18 times.

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Spotted

The Irish Times reports that University College Cork is not going ahead with a project to form a “joint college” with a Chinese university, Minzu University, that specialises in ethnic studies.

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Business

BEIS Committee report on supply chains, Barclays, Imagination Technologies

Ignorance is no longer bliss

On Wednesday, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) published its report, ‘Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang and UK value chains’, the culmination of a months long inquiry into the issue.

Led by Nus Ghani MP (IPAC member), it set out several recommendations for Government and the private sector, the latter of which included the creation of a black and white list (more on that in a second). During the report, the Committee heard evidence from a wide range of companies from fashion through to tech, including Boohoo, TikTok and Disney. One of the areas that came under focus was cotton; Xinjiang accounts for over 80% of China’s production of the stuff, which often ends up making its way on to shelves and shops in Western markets.

Commenting on the release of the report, Ghani stated:

It is deeply concerning that companies selling to millions of British customers cannot guarantee that their supply chains are free from forced labour. Modern slavery legislation and BEIS Department policy are not fit for purpose in tackling this grave situation. The Government must act to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act, introduce a tougher business policy framework, and examine the use of targeted sanctions to ensure every effort is made to stamp out profiteering from these abuses.

“Amid mounting evidence of abuses, it is deeply disappointing that the Government appears to lack the urgency and commitment to take the tough action which is both necessary and overdue. Amid compelling evidence of abuses, there has been a sorry absence of significant new Government measures to prohibit UK businesses from profiting from the forced labour of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and other parts of China.

A couple of things worth noting from a private sector perspective. The first is recommendation for the creation of a white and black list for companies with operations in the region. Companies that failed to be transparent would be on the blacklist - companies that cleared up their supply chains would be moved to the whitelist. This would be publicly available information, and updated every six months.

The second is that it singles out two companies for their poor performance.

  • TikTok, where the Committee expressed concern over the potential flow of information between TikTok UK, its parent company ByteDance Ltd and other subsidiary companies (such as ByteDance (HK) Ltd), which could be subject to China's National Intelligence Law. 

  • Disney, which decided not to show up to face questions relating to its conduct in Xinjiang, principally in relation to the production of the film Mulan in the region.

The report can be read in full here.

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Made in Britain

A well timed report from Barclays examines the global appeal of British-made products.

Some key stats:

  • 66% of Chinese respondents were more inclined to buy products if they displayed a British flag

  • 39% said they would wait for a British product to be back in stock instead of purchasing an alternative product

  • When asked if they are buying more British goods than they did five years ago, 64% of Chinese respondents said they are increasingly buying British

  • Consumers in India, China, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates would also be the most likely to pay more for products “produced in the UK” because those products “are internationally respected” – all of which demonstrates the importance for British firms to highlight the ‘Made in Britain’ aspect of the products

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Imagination Technologies

On Monday, the Telegraph reported that British chip maker Imagination Technologies had lost its fourth executive in less than a year, set against “the wake of claims its Beijing backers were plotting to appoint representatives to its board.” The company is owned by Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, a private equity fund based in Beijing, China that is beneficially owned by the Chinese government.

The paper elaborates:

Imagination is still, however, facing scrutiny over the dispute last year, which centred around the main backers of Canyon Bridge, a private equity firm which bought the company in 2017 for around £550m. Its main shareholders are China Reform, a state-backed entity which had attempted to stage a coup of Imagination's board by appointing its own representatives. 

It later U-turned on the move following an outpouring of concern among senior MPs over the power this would give Beijing over the British chip designer.

Its technology is used in Apple and Samsung products, but it also has developed systems which check if that technology works - something MPs cautioned could be used to find so-called "back doors" or vulnerabilities in networks. The row resulted in former executives being dragged before MPs in an inquiry over foreign asset stripping. 

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Odds and ends

  • Global Times reports some residents in Xinjiang are going to sue the BBC. Quoting Xu Guixiang, deputy director of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee, it says the corporation is being sued ‘for producing fake news, spreading rumors about Xinjiang and slandering China's policy in its Xinjiang region’.

  • The China-Britain Business Council has launched its China Committee, or ‘C2’ for short. C2 is made up of representatives from CBBC members who are based in Greater China and will be chaired by Duncan Clark who is also a Vice Chair of CBBC’s Board. (Press release)



Spotted

Speaking at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford a couple of weeks ago, Minister at the Chinese Embassy Ma Hui. The Embassy elaborates:

Minister Ma gave a comprehensive presentation on the leadership system of the Communist Party of China, the system of people’s congress, the system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation, the system of regional ethnic autonomy and the system of community-level self-governance in China. He emphasized that different countries may have varied social systems and development paths, and the people should have the right to make their own choices. One should look at and understand China’s political system in a global, historical and practical perspective. Socialism with Chinese characteristics under the CPC leadership is the choice of history and the Chinese people, which suits China’s national circumstances and guarantees China’s sustaining progress and development. It has won the support of the Chinese people and offered an alternative for developing countries to realize modernization. China is not exporting its development model, but is willing to share its successful experience.

Minister Ma also took around 20 questions from the students regarding China’s response to the Covid-19, China’s economy and diplomacy, the international community’s perception of China, and Xinjiang and Hong Kong related issues. He specifically shared information on the facts and truth of Xinjiang, the implementation of Hong Kong National Security Law, and NPC’s decision to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system. He also revealed the smear and slander against China by some politicians and media in the West on related issues.

Students said Minister Ma’s lecture was not only comprehensive, insightful and inspiring, but also helpful to widen their visions and resolve the problem of information asymmetric of China. China has created a miracle in eradicating absolute poverty, which is of great reference to African and South Asian countries. China’s development model and experience offer an important reference and example for other developing countries in their exploration to find development paths that suit themselves.

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Society

Anti-Asian racism

On Wednesday morning, news reached the United Kingdom of the murder of eight people at Asian massage parlours in Atlanta by a 21 year old white man. He told police that he is a sex addict and that he wanted to "eliminate the temptation.” Six of his victims were Asian women.

In the same week, a tweet went viral showing the aftermath of a racially charged attack against an elderly Chinese grandmother in San Fransisco.

With this in mind and given the rise in anti-Chinese and Asian racism in the UK, we felt it appropriate to share this paragraph from Protocol:

The media certainly has a role to play. We strive to talk about China in all of its complexity, to avoid conflating Chinese people with their government, and to view the subjects of our reporting as a diverse collection of individuals, never an abstraction or a monolith.

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Spotted

A very interesting question concerning a subject we’ve covered at length in these briefings; the Great-Britain China Centre.

Afzal Khan asked:

The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, how much funding his Department has provided for the training of Chinese judges through the work of the Great-Britain China Centre since 2015; and how many Chinese judges the Great-Britain China Centre has trained that date.

To which Minister for Asia Nigel Adams responded:

The Great Britain China Centre (GBCC), an arms-length public body independent from Government, facilitates dialogue with China on issues of importance to the UK. It currently receives £500,000 per annum in funding from the FCDO. GBCC uses this funding to support the UK Government's China objectives, including by delivering projects on rule of law and judicial cooperation. GBCC engages with legal professionals through a wide variety of forums, including the UK-China Joint Judicial Expert Working Group on Commercial Dispute Resolution and the UK-China Rule of Law Roundtable. Such initiatives are not training programmes, but instead dialogues that help to foster a better understanding of legal and judicial systems in China and the UK, and promote the rule of law as a key UK value. Given the nature of such dialogues, it is not possible to establish with precision how many Chinese judges have been engaged since 2015.

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