FULL TRANSCRIPT: China section from PM debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss
A Beijing to Britain transcript
The first debate between the two hopefuls to be Prime Minister - Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak - has just concluded.
It featured a long segment on China, which we have transcribed in full exclusively for readers, given we think it will probably be fairly useful to know exactly what each candidate said. We add no further analysis, and have attached a downloadable PDF of the transcript.
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Transcript in full
Sophie Raworth, BBC Host
“After trading blows about China today over Britain's relationship with China, Rishi Sunak, you've said that politicians in Britain have rolled out the red carpet and turned a blind eye to China for too long. Are you talking about Liz Truss?”
“No, I mean look - Liz has been on a journey as well. There was a time when this was talking about having a Golden Era of relationships with China, and on a mission there was talking about having deeper collaboration in things like food security and technology. But what we do need to do is acknowledge that China is a threat to our national security, it's a threat to our economic security. And that's why as Chancellor I was pleased that we could put forward something called the National Security and Investment Bill. And that gives us the powers as a country to protect ourselves against countries like China, who are trying to infiltrate our companies and steal our technology. That's what we need to do. But we also need to stand up for our values. And for example, when it came to Hong Kong, I was pleased to ensure that we put the funding in place to welcome to this country thousands who [interruption] who wanted to leave.”
“Rishi, I challenged you on this in the debate last week. As recently as a month ago, you were pushing for closer trade relationships with China. This is not something you've advocated in Government. I'm delighted that you've come around to my way of thinking, but it's been driven by the Foreign Office - the toughest stance we've taken on China, whether it's creating the alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road with our G7 colleagues, whether it's been clear that Taiwan should be able to defend itself in the face of Chinese aggression. We have led on that and frankly, what we've heard from the Treasury is a desire for closer economic relations with China. My view is we should not repeat the mistake we made with Russia of becoming strategically dependent on Russia and we're now facing the costs of that on energy. We can't do it strategically [interruption].”
“But Liz, you said not that long ago that we - our relations with China, we're entering a golden era.”
“I think that was almost a decade ago I said that...”
“You went on a trip there and you wanted to deepen collaboration in areas like security and technology. Now look, it's right that as threats change, we all need to evolve policy for that. But look, I agree with actually the Head of MI5, who recently addressed this issue, and made it painfully clear that of course we need to protect our values, stand up for our values, protect our country against threats. But that's not incompatible with engaging with countries around the world when it's in our interest to do so. And we can protect ourselves - that's what the Head of MI5 said and I agree with him.”
Faisal Islam, BBC Economics Editor
“So obviously you both know China's going to be, or might be the world's biggest economy in the next decade. Are you willing to - the rhetoric is tough - but be willing to actually damage our trade relations with our number one import partner and number six export partner? And something tangible - okay, a Chinese owned company owns a big social media company that has connections into millions of teenagers. Are you going to crack down on TikTok like some of your MPs have said you should?”
“We should, we absolutely should be cracking down on those types of companies. And we should be limiting the amount of technology exports we do to authoritarian regimes. I've been talking to our G7 allies about this. We collectively represent 50% of world GDP. I don't think it's inevitable that China will be the biggest economy in the world. In fact, we've been enabling that to happen, but I'm very clear, you know, after the appalling abuses in Xinjiang, after the terrible actions on Hong Kong, and the most recent outrage which is China, working with Russia, and essentially backing them in the appalling war in Ukraine, we have to take this tough stance. We have to learn from the mistakes we made of Europe becoming dependent on Russian oil and gas. We cannot allow that to happen with China and freedom is a price worth paying.”
“Okay [turning to Sunak] TikTok for you are going to be clear?”
“As I was saying earlier, I helped pass in Parliament, a piece of legislation that gives the government the powers to block investment in our economy, from countries and companies that we think are not consistent with our values or our interests, or are trying to infiltrate our organisations. And that's happening not just in the corporate world Faisal, it's happening in our universities and civic society, and we need to be on guard against that. And as Prime Minister, I'll take a very, very robust view on making sure that we do stand up for our values and we protect ourselves against those threats because that's the right thing to do for our security.”
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