Tom Tugendhat insisted China was an important trading partner for the UK. But the Conservative MP cautioned against relying too heavily on the dictatorship amid its dishonesty over the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world. The Foreign Affairs chief said lessons from the deadly outbreak could only be learned if nations were frank with each other.
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Speaking to James Whale on talkRADIO he said: “What I am interested in is finding ways to protect the British people.
“And that means working with people from around the world.
“And yes, people in China. But it also means everybody being honest with one another.”
Mr Tugendhat went on to accuse China of being dishonest with the world amid the horrific coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “And the problem we have got with China is they are not being honest. And that is the only thing I am disappointed by.
“We need them to be frank. Because if they are not then we can’t learn from each other. If we can’t learn from each other then that means people are going to be taken ill.
“Some are going to die because of lessons that could have been learned for free. And that is not right.”
Host Mr Whale pressed the Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman on what implications there would be for the UK’s trading relationship with the powerful communist dictatorship.
He said: “Is it going to harm our trading situation or not?”
Mr Tugendhat said: “I really hope not. But if it is a question of trade, we have got to think really long and hard about who we are dependent on.
“Of course we want to trade with China. There is no question about it.
“China has been an enormous and productive and important trading partner for us for many, many years.
“Of course we want to trade. But we do not want to be dependent on somebody who is willing to put their own citizens at risk.
“Because if they are willing to do that to their own, imagine what they are willing to do to us.”
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China has faced increased scrutiny over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak amid cover-up claims.
US President Donald Trump has even claimed to have seen evidence the deadly pathogen originated in a Wuhan research lab.
The Republican firebrand has, however, failed to provide proof of his accusations.
Astonishingly, China has denied the origin of the COVID-19 virus was Wuhan at all, with the UK’s China ambassador refuting the suggestion this week.
Beijing’s chief diplomat in London Liu Xiaoming told the BBC’s HARDtalk: “It was first discovered in Wuhan but I can’t say it originated there because I would leave it to the scientists.
“We cannot say it originated from China. It can be found on aircraft carriers. It can even be found in the submarine.
“It is found in some countries which have very little connection with China and also can be found in groups of people who have never been to China.”
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