British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that China is the only country with both the means and intent to reshape the world order and that it poses the biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity. He made these remarks after attending the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan, where he and other leaders discussed how to deal with the rising threat of Beijing.
Sunak said that China is increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad, and that it has been using economic coercion to interfere in the sovereign affairs of other countries. He also expressed concerns about China’s human rights violations in Tibet and Xinjiang, its territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and its lack of cooperation on issues such as climate change and pandemic response.
He said that the G7 countries, which include Japan, the US, Canada, France, Germany and Italy, have shown unity and resolve in confronting the challenges posed by China. He said that they have agreed to set up a new body to counter economic coercion by China and others, and to de-risk their supply chains and investments from Chinese influence. He also said that they have supported Taiwan’s democracy and security, and urged China to use its influence with Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.
However, Sunak also said that the G7 countries do not seek to fully decouple from China, but rather to engage with it in areas where there are common interests. He said that this is all about de-risking, not de-coupling. He added that he hopes that China will respect the rules-based international order and work with other countries to address global challenges.
Sunak’s comments come after his predecessor as prime minister, Liz Truss, visited Taiwan last week and criticised China’s aggression towards the island. Truss represents a more hawkish wing of Sunak’s Conservative Party that opposes his approach to China. Sunak also said that Britain will start training Ukrainian pilots this summer to support its air force in its war with Russia.
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