Sunak signals frosty relations with China as PM warns China is 'not the same as it was a decade ago'

Sunak signals frosty relations with China as PM warns China is 'not the same as it was a decade ago'
Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 27/11/2023

- 12:06

Updated: 27/11/2023

- 13:37

David Cameron, who encouraged strong ties with China when he was prime minister, was appointed Foreign Secretary at the last reshuffle

Rishi Sunak has suggested relations with China will not get any warmer now David Cameron is Foreign Secretary, warning that the country is "not the same as it was a decade ago".

Speaking at the Global Investment Summit, the Prime Minister said: “If David were here to say he would say that China today is not the China that he dealt with a decade ago.”

China-sceptic MP Tobias Ellwood, the former Chair of the Defence Select Committee, lent his support to Sunak's remarks, telling GB News that the former PM has a "key role to play" in preventing the world from "splintering into two spheres of influence".

He said: "The 'what to do about China' question is far more nuanced than ‘engage or decouple’.

WATCH: Sunak addresses the Global Investment Summit in London

"China is not going away. Militarily, technologically and economically this is China’s century.

"If the world is to avoid splintering into two spheres of competing influence then an off-ramp avoiding a world at war must be found soon."

He added: "Cameron has a key role to play here."

But fellow China-sceptic MP Iain Duncan-Smith, former leader of the party, told GB News Sunak is simply trying to "patch up" the "crass mess" made by Cameron.

Over the weekend, the Foreign Secretary said he supports the Government's current "realistic, hard-headed policy" towards China.

But speaking to the BBC he insisted that it is still right to "engage" with China, suggesting the country is key to solving major global issues like climate change.

Speaking at the Global Investment Summit at Hampton Court Palace, Sunak said there is “very positive momentum behind the UK economy”.

Arriving at the summit, the PM said: “My singular focus is driving growth and creating jobs across the UK. So I’m delighted that we’ve secured investments worth around £30 billion – three times the amount that was secured the last time this summit was held a little while ago.

“And that comes on the back of a very positive autumn statement where we cut taxes for those businesses that are investing in our future growth, and also the great announcements from Nissan last week, securing the future of that plant in Sunderland, building three new lines of the next generation of electric vehicles.

“So very positive momentum behind the UK economy.”

In his speech, Sunak said the UK’s “low-tax” approach is one of the three biggest advantages to investing, saying: “When I say that this country can be the best place in the world to invest in to do business you should believe me because of three big competitive advantages that we have – our low tax approach, our culture of innovation, and our people.”

The PM added: “The purest expression of this Government’s economic philosophy is that people and businesses make far better decisions about their own money than any government could.

“And I believe that allowing you to keep more of the return on your capital, our country becomes more competitive as a place to invest, grow and create jobs.


WATCH: Cameron arrives at Downing Street before being appointed Foreign Secretary

“And make no mistake, we are cutting taxes. Not only do we have the lowest corporation tax rate in the G7.

“Last week, we announced that we would make full expensing permanent. That means you can write off the cost of many capital investments in full. It makes our capital allowances regime one of the most generous in the world and it was the biggest business tax cut in modern Britain.”

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