It’s official: Liz Truss is the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. On Sept. 5, when the announcement was made, very few, if any, were really surprised. She was always the favorite to replace the much-maligned, rarely-boring Boris Johnson. Like her predecessor, Truss, 47, is no stranger to criticism. Unlike her predecessor, however, she has repeatedly promised to get tough on China.
When it comes to countering the threat from China, Truss will likely find her efforts hampered by a rather sizable obstacle. You see, British-based scientists are incredibly cozy with China and, by extension, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In many ways, China and the UK are inextricably linked.
With a budget of €95.5 billion, Horizon Europe is the European Union’s No. 1 funding program for research and innovation. As you no doubt recall, the UK exited the EU more than two years ago. Now, there is a high chance that the UK will also opt out of Horizon Europe. If the UK does bid farewell to the program, then funding from Brussels for British-based scientists will dry up. How will these scientists survive? Where will the money come from?
Enter China, a country only too willing to pour money into the UK.
Let’s start with the Newton Fund, or, as it’s referred to in China, the UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund. According to the British Council’s website, this £200 million fund between London and Beijing covers a couple of very specific activities:
- People: promoting student and researcher fellowships, as well as mobility schemes.
- Programs: Collaborations between researchers in the UK and China.
Priority areas of research include environmental technologies, energy, education, and food and water security. A number of these programs are implemented by the British Council of China.
Then, there’s UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which, we’re told, “convenes, catalyses and invests in close collaboration with others to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system.” This includes convening and collaborating with China. According to its site, UKRI China was established to develop close relationships with China’s “national and regional research and innovation funding agencies.” This includes the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. With an office in Beijing, UKRI China has received a total combined investment of a cool £360 million. Furthermore, the initiative has brought together “more than 350 partner research organisations and businesses in the UK and China.”
Now, before I am accused of being a xenophobic fearmonger, it’s well known that China—or more specifically, the CCP—can’t be trusted. Any Chinese student or researcher who goes abroad must first get permission from Beijing. Some of those that travel abroad are sent to spy on important individuals and/or prestigious organizations. Entering into partnerships with CCP-backed agencies is akin to doing a deal with the devil, a Faustian bargain of epic proportions. In return for generous investments, a country essentially hands over the keys of the house to Beijing. To think otherwise requires a complete suspension of disbelief.
Rather comically, via the China Fund Prosperity Programme, the UK is currently working with China to address major global challenges. At the same time, however, British politicians are ignoring, either consciously or otherwise, the challenges and threats in their own backyard. As I write this, a British company named Grainger and Worrall is manufacturing weapons for the Chinese military.
The influence China exerts over the UK cannot be emphasized enough. There are currently 30 Confucius Institutes operating in the UK. As I have discussed before, these organizations are nothing less than extended arms of the CCP. Ostensibly, these institutes were established to promote Chinese culture; in reality, they were established to limit free speech and spy on unsuspecting university students. They are Trojan horses designed to harm countries, not help them. This is the very reason why Sweden decided to ban Confucius Institutes back in 2020.
If this isn’t bad enough, China now owns $143 billion in UK assets, including nuclear power plants, bars, and schools. China also has a large stake in the UK’s electrical grid. In fact, if push came to shove, China could plunge England, Wales, and Scotland into complete darkness. If this does occur, it should be considered a real-life representation of the UK’s utter blindness, and its unwillingness to address the Chinese elephant in the room.
This brings us back to Ms. Truss. Can she really nullify the threat from the CCP? Call me a pessimist, but I have serious doubts.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.