Sunak: China represents ‘systemic challenge for the world order’
Britain risks “taking for granted” its historic relationship with the Commonwealth while China is making a deliberate effort to replace us, Rishi Sunak has been warned.
MP Daniel Kawczynski, one of the Prime Minister’s trade envoys, wants the UK to agree major deals with Caribbean nations to prevent them reducing links.
He sees this as urgent with a number of countries where King Charles is head of state considering becoming republics – following the lead of Barbados in 2021.
Its Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, met with China’s Premier Li Qiang in Beijing in June as the nation turns away from its traditional ties.
Mr Kawczynski, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on St Kitts and Nevis, said: “This is a shot across the bows of how we can no longer afford to take these Caribbean nations for granted, or underestimate the increasing effect from China.”
In a memo to the Foreign Office, the Shrewsbury and Atcham MP said: “We are in a race with China over political and economic influence across the Caribbean, and we need to demonstrate to nations that we understand their priorities and are working towards incorporating them in a new bilateral trading partnership.”
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It comes after the UK agreed in July to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asia-Pacific trade bloc made up of 11 other countries including Commonwealth nations Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Kawczynski last week returned from a visit to St Kitts and Nevis and has met the high commissioners or ambassadors to the UK from all 15 members of trading bloc CARICOM.
He called for “a bespoke trade agreement which focuses on the priorities of Britain and Caribbean nations”.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly last week visited China, where he met Vice-President Han Zheng and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, while Mr Sunak hopes to meet President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit on Saturday.
But concerns have been raised about the Foreign Office’s strategy for dealing with China, which is being kept a secret. The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee warned in a report last week: “It is not even available to senior ministers.”
It meant the Government’s approach was “incoherent” because ministers and officials didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing.
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