Iain Duncan Smith has slammed Rishi Sunak for using his G20 visit to water down Liz’s hardline position on China. Speaking to the travelling press pack, Rishi labelled China a “systematic threat” before correcting himself to “systematic challenge”. He did go on, however, to admit it is the “biggest state-based threat to our economic security”. This marks a lowering of the temperature compared to Truss’s plan to elevate China’s formal status to ‘threat’…
Rishi also refused to follow in Liz’s wake on the issue of sending arms to Taiwan. His predecessor vowed she would do so, with Rishi now promising to “consider all these things as part of the refresh of the integrated review.” Not a refusal, just less hawkish language.
China-hawk-in-chief Iain Duncan Smith isn’t happy. He told Politico:
“What more evidence does [Sunak] need that they are threatening our very values and the way we live our lives?”
“We’ve seen the assault in Manchester and ad hoc Chinese police stations trying to coerce Chinese citizens back into China by bullying them and threatening them.”
“This is a cop-out. The saddest part of this is that President Xi Jinping will see this about-turn as a sign of weakness by the PM.”
Newly-elected Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns is less upset, however, arguing that redesignating China’s threat status was merely a Truss PR stunt that would have changed little.
“Changing the designation of China would have rendered us an outlier amongst our Five Eyes partners and risked distraction from developing a more strategic approach.”
Meanwhile the main news overnight is that No. 10 released a photo of Rishi glaring at Lavrov. Very intimidating…