During a speech in Taiwan, Liz Truss will put pressure on Rishi Sunak to label China a “threat” to national security, which might irritate Beijing and potentially exacerbate the government’s cautious stance to China.
The former prime minister, who is attempting to restart her career after serving for only 49 days in Downing Street, will urge her successor to adhere to the rhetoric he used to describe China as the “biggest threat” to Britain during the Conservative Party leadership election last summer.
Additionally, Mr. Sunak pledged to shut down Beijing’s 30 Confucius Institutes in the UK, which educate pupils about Chinese culture.
In her speech on Wednesday, Ms Truss is set to say: “Last summer, the now British prime minister described China as ‘the biggest long-term threat to Britain’ and said the Confucius Institutes should be closed.
“He was right, and we need to see those policies enacted urgently. The UK’s Integrated Review needs to be amended to state clearly that China is a threat.
“Confucius Institutes should be closed down immediately. Instead, the service could be provided by organisations with the support of Hong Kong nationals and Taiwanese nationals who have come to the UK on a free basis.”
As prime minister, Ms. Truss was anticipated to make Britain take a tougher stance against Beijing and to label the Communist Party-run China as a “threat” to national security.
However, due to her brief tenure in Downing Street and her terrible mini-Budget, her foreign policy ambitions were unable to be implemented.
Mr. Sunak opted not to go as far, amending the UK’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development, and Foreign Policy in March to define China as a “epoch-defining and systemic challenge”.
Since Margaret Thatcher visited Taiwan in the 1990s, Ms. Truss will be the only former British prime minister to do so.
Senior Tories have expressed concern that her visit could “complicate” the government’s stance on China and undermine Mr. Sunak on the international stage.
Alicia Kearns, the chair of the Conservative foreign affairs select committee, also criticized her, calling the planned visit “the worst kind of Instagram diplomacy.”
In retaliation, Ms. Truss called China “the largest threat that we face to the free world” and criticized the West for not taking harsh enough measures.
The visit takes place at a delicate time for Western-Beijing ties as Beijing becomes more assertive.
China hasn’t ruled out using force to achieve “reunification” because it sees Taiwan as a separatist province that will inevitably fall under its control.
Taiwan, however, considers itself independent from the People’s Republic of China and has its own government.
Following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island in August of last year, relations shattered severely, and there are worries that Ms. Truss’s travel may worsen the situation.
Ms. Kearns added that Ms. Truss might have just wished to travel to the nation to raise her profile.
Ms. Truss is anticipated to warn that authoritarian regimes “don’t tell the truth” and encourage the West not to cooperate with China. She’s also supposed to draw parallels between the conflict between China and Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Wednesday morning in Taipei, the former prime minister will speak to the Prospect Foundation think tank.
SOURCE: Independent UK