27 June 2023 – Today in the British Parliament, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation hosted a panel discussion led by Baroness Helena Kennedy and attended by several other members of the House of Lords looking at the UK’s foreign policy towards China.
In a packed committee room, Baroness Kennedy opened the session by asking the experts to identify the key challenges in UK-China policymaking and suggest specific policies that the current government or the next government could immediately enact to strengthen the UK’s foreign policy position with China.
The speakers included Dr Andreas Fulda, Political Scientist at the University of Nottingham; Dr Jane Richards, Law Lecturer at the University of Leeds; Andrew Yeh, Deputy Director at the China Strategic Risks Institute; Sam Hogg, Editor of Beijing to Britain; and Kayla Blomquist, Director of the Oxford China Policy Lab.
The National Security Law in Hong Kong featured heavily across all subject matters. Dr Andreas Fulda demanded that the British government call on Hong Kong to repeal the National Security Law, while Dr Jane Richards underscored how the National Security Law poses risks to those expressing dissent in and outside of Hong Kong. Both professors provided a series of recommendations to the British government, urging them to lift sanctions on British parliamentarians, remove Confucius Institutes from British universities, and expand the British National (Overseas) visa scheme. Dr Fulda also said that conditionality from the UK on trade deals with China should become a requirement for dialogue and cooperation.
Sam Hogg noted that the British government does not have enough China experts or people within the foreign service that speak fluent Chinese. This leads to misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge for overseeing UK-China relations. Mr Hogg also advised the UK government to conduct an immediate risk assessment of UK-China relations. Andrew Yeh focused on British foreign policy as it relates to Taiwan, and called on the British government to increase UK-Taiwan economic ties, deepen UK-Taiwan people-to-people connections, and raise the cost of Chinese aggression towards Taiwan. Ms Blomquist recommended that Britain invest heavily in China-facing technological capabilities and prevent the transfer of dual-use technologies.
Other members of the House of Lords who attended the session include Lord Cormack, Lord Leong, Lord Shinkwin, Baroness D’Souza and Lord Hunt.
Mark Sabah, UK and EU Director of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, said:
“UK-China foreign policy is increasingly on the front pages as its importance as well as trade and the economy grows. This lively discussion in the House of Lords between Peers and policy experts in these fields comes exactly at the right time. From Hong Kong to Taiwan to cyberspace, the British government must make clear their policy and posture towards China. Britain cannot afford to continue in the path of its current position marked by confusion. The British government should look seriously at their China foreign policy in order to safeguard British national security from the pervasive hand of the Chinese Communist Party.”