Conservative Party Candidates Take Tough Stance on CCP

Political leaders around the world increasingly say ‘No’ to the Chinese Communist Party
By Jessica Mao
Jessica Mao
Jessica Mao
Jessica Mao is a writer for The Epoch Times with a focus on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2009.
August 9, 2022 Updated: August 9, 2022

News Analysis

Candidates for British Conservative party leader are competing to demonstrate how tough they will be in their stance against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), indicating that the UK’s decoupling from the CCP has become the consensus of mainstream British society.

The winner of the party leadership contest will succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be the new prime minister in September.

On July 25, Foreign minister Liz Truss and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak went into their first head-to-head debate in their race to be the next prime minister on live BBC TV.

The two candidates “unexpectedly” shifted the focus of their arguments to the CCP ruling regime, according to the Chinese language BBC report of the day.

Acknowledge the CCP Is a Threat

Truss said in the debate, that what the UK really needs to do is acknowledge the threat of the CCP to Britain’s national security and economic security and prevent the CCP from infiltrating British companies and stealing technology. In addition, Britain needs to uphold its values.

When it comes to Hong Kong, she said the UK was capable of securing sufficient funding to welcome thousands of people out of Hong Kong and into the country.

Truss criticized Sunak for being too moderate toward the CCP in the past, saying that Sunak was pushing for closer trade relations with the CCP only a month ago, and now she is glad that Sunak has accepted her opinion.

“Whether it’s taking the alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road with our G-7 colleagues, whether it’s being clear that Taiwan should be able to defend itself in the face of Chinese aggression—we have led on that.” Truss said.

The Belt and Road is the global infrastructure project initiated by CCP leader Xi Jinping, aiming at expanding its influence over other countries in the world.

Truss also expressed her dissatisfaction with the Treasury Department, “and frankly, what we’ve heard from the Treasury is a desire for closer economic relations with China.”

The UK should crack down on Chinese technology companies such as TikTok, a video-sharing platform popular among western youngers, in order to limit technology exports to the authoritarian regimes, said Truss, claiming that if she wins the election, she will do so.

Truss and Sunak are currently vying for the support of some 160,000 British Conservative Party members. These members will begin voting in early August to choose their next party leader. The final result is expected to come out on Sep. 5.

Epoch Times Photo
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak hosts a press conference in the Downing Street Briefing Room in London, England, on Feb. 3, 2022. (Justin Tallis – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Largest Threat to the UK

Global Times a Chinese state media and CCP mouthpiece once praised Sunak as the only candidate in the race who had “a clear and pragmatic view on developing UK-China ties.”

But the Chinese media soon found its mistakes as Sunak turned to a totally opposite position. In the July 25th debate, he described the CCP as the largest threat to British and the world’s security and prosperity this century.

Sunak suggested shutting down the 30 Confucius Institutes in the UK to prevent the CCP from spreading its soft power.

The CCP-backed Confucius Institutes are widely known as a propaganda tool for the CCP to influence relations with the West under the cloak of cultural and language communications.

The Higher Education Bill needs to be amended to force British universities to disclose any foreign funding partnerships of above £50,000 ($60,000) in light of China’s technological aggression.

Sunak pledged to increase the efforts of MI5, the UK counter-intelligence agency, to combat Chinese Communist spies and will seek to establish “NATO-style” international cooperation to counter the threat posed by the CCP in cyberspace. He will also look at cases where the CCP is prohibited from acquiring key British assets, including strategically sensitive technology companies.

Sunak accused the CCP of stealing UK technology and infiltrating universities, as well as supporting Putin by buying Russian oil and trying to bully its neighbors, including Taiwan.

He criticized Beijing’s “Belt and Road” project for saddling developing countries with insurmountable debt and for its human rights violations and economic deprivation of China.

“Enough is enough. For too long, politicians in Britain and across the West have rolled out the red carpet and turned a blind eye to China’s nefarious activity and ambitions.

“I will change this on Day 1 as PM,” Sunak said.

‘Dare to Say ‘No’ to the CCP’

In an interview with The Epoch Times on July 28, Qi Jiazhen, the executive of the Qi’s Cultural Foundation of Australia, said that international communities have already recognized that the CCP is a huge danger.

This awareness is different from the past, “In the past, many countries did not come forward to say ‘No’ to the CCP, even though they knew that the CCP was eroding their culture, economy, and military, but that has changed,” said Qi.

Sunak was once pro-Beijing with his family remaining economic ties with the CCP, but he now is anti-Beijing. “Sunak’s shift reflects that the world is beginning to dare to say ‘No’ to Communist China,” Qi said.

“It is also evident that the public considers it very crucial for the candidates to be anti-CCP, I hope that the British public will elect people who are truly fighting against the CCP.”

Epoch Times Photo
The royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom (R) is seen next to the national flag of China as pro-Beijing activists gather outside the British Consulate-General to protest against the use of the British National (Overseas) passport in Hong Kong on Feb. 1, 2021. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)

A Shift in the Political Sphere

While major British media outlets are reporting that Truss and Sunak are accusing each other of being too weak on Beijing and declaring that they will get tougher, British political circles and the public reached a consensus on being anti-CCP, and even the largest opposition party, the Labor Party, is making significant revisions to its policy towards China.

U.S.-based China expert Tang Jingyuan told The Epoch Times that the shift in the UK political sphere has four main reasons.

“One is the traditional U.S.-UK alliance, which allowed the UK to share a great deal of intelligence with the U.S. during the Johnson administration. It may include that CCP concealed the epidemic outbreak and caused it to spread worldwide, and the genocidal atrocities committed in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs live in China,” Tang said.

Second, the CCP’s brutal suppression of the 2019–2020 pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration, dealing a serious blow to the previous perception of the CCP regime in the UK.

“The CCP’s crackdown on Hong Kong is actually a crackdown on the values represented by the British political and legal system,” said Tang.

“This is an exact illustration of the aggressive and exclusive nature of the Communist Party’s ideological manifestations, which are far more damaging than UK-China cooperation in the economic sphere. This has led Britain to realize that the national security threat posed by the CCP is much greater than the economic dividends it brings,” Tang continued.

Third, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the CCP made statements on Russia’s side, along with voices about “Ukraine today and Taiwan tomorrow.” The UK was alarmed to learn that the CCP—this communist regime with financial and military power—is an evil regime that fully supports dictatorial tyranny and intends to expand abroad.

“This regime is seeking to overthrow the existing international order, which is dominated by the U.S.-British alliance, and this affects Britain’s fundamental interests,” Tang said.

Fourthly, more negative news was revealed about the CCP’s penetration of the UK in the areas of politics, technology, education, and culture. “This has led to a widespread awareness in the UK that the CCP’s tentacles are close to home.”

“This is one of the major factors in the emergence of a strong crisis in the British political arena against the CCP,” Tang added.

Would Economic Coercion Work?

In the past years, the CCP has been exerting economic pressure on other countries, but now it doesn’t work as well as before.

The CCP’s “zero-COVID” policy and lockdown measures have continued for more than two years, tipping the country’s economy into a downturn.

Therefore, “I don’t think the economic pressure or any other means that the CCP is using on the UK will work,” Qi said. “For example, the CCP has put economic pressure on Australia by not importing Australian coal. But Australia has opened up another market, so the CCP is just ‘lifting the stone and smashed its own feet.’”

The reversal of Sunak’s position shows that it has become the consensus in mainstream British society to reject and decouple [from] the CCP,” Tang said.

“UK diplomacy is based on national security rather than economic and trade cooperation, and so it would be counterproductive for the CCP to use economic coercion to change the UK’s stance.”

Ellen Wan contributed to this report

Jessica Mao
Jessica Mao is a writer for The Epoch Times with a focus on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2009.