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May 24, 2020

‘China one entity with which UK can create new growth post-Brexit’

World

May 24, 2020

LONDON: A leading academic has recommended that Britain rethink the absence of having its own policy towards China in the wake of Brexit, as the country is the one entity with which Britain might be able to create new growth.

Prof Kerry Brown, Director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College made the remarks at an online seminar hosted by The Democracy Forum (TDF) on Friday, where leading academics and international relations specialists debated the extent to which China may be held accountable for the Covid-19 pandemic, and implications for its foreign policy and internal stability going forward, a press release said.

Brown said: “Britain has never really had its own policy towards China, but it will have to rethink this, given that it has now left the EU and its trading partner the US faces huge economic difficulties. China is therefore the one entity with which Britain might be able to create new growth. As a result, all ‘bellicose rhetoric’ about China must be ‘taken with a pinch of salt’, as we face a stark choice: deal with China, or face catastrophic economic consequences.”

Brown also stressed that Britain will have to ask tough questions about how it frames the discourse about China.

In an introduction to the event, TDF president Lord Bruce said that the title of the webinar reflected the global disruption caused by the rapid spread of Covid-19, and looked to panellists considering the contributory role China has played at the epicentre of this disease and the likely consequences for its foreign policy and internal security.

Chairing the seminar, former BBC Asia correspondent Humphrey Hawksley spoke of pushback against expanding Chinese influence, increasing talk of a new Cold War, and how Covid-19 is acting as “a catalyst to re-order our thoughts” vis-à-vis the Chinese-reliant supply chain to which the world has become so accustomed.

Panellist Charles Parton OBE, a senior associate Fellow at London’s RUSI think tank, focused on the initial CCP reaction to the coronavirus crisis and China’s domestic and overseas propaganda, as well as whether that has affected the stability of the regime, for which “politics will always come before people” as it clings to power.

“We can neither do everything China wants, nor can we ignore it,” advised Rana Mitter, Prof of History and Politics of Modern China at Oxford University, and it was time to “stop playing games with China” as, in a post-Brexit world, Britain and other liberal democracies will need a “good but robust and clear relationship with China”.