Iain Dale challenges foreign policy chief who says UK must be more understanding of China

30 July 2020, 21:28 | Updated: 30 July 2020, 21:29

By Fiona Jones

"This sounds like appeasement to me": Iain Dale challenges foreign policy chief who says UK must "learn more" about China and "be less complacent."

Disputes between the UK and China over Hong Kong, tech giant Huawei and human rights abuses in Xinjiang have "seriously poisoned" relations between the two countries, Beijing's ambassador to London said.

Liu Xiaoming said the UK is at a "critical historical juncture" in how it treats China.

British Foreign Policy Group has conducted a report, calling for "Britain to try and find a middle ground between the complacency of the past and some of the paranoia that's starting to develop," according to their director Sophia Gaston.

Ms Gaston insisted the UK must gain a greater understanding of China and then think "strategically and critically" about how Sino-British relations will work in relation to infrastructure, higher education and business.

"It sounds like appeasement to me," Iain said.

Ms Gaston responded that this is the wrong way to look at it, agreeing that the UK must defend its liberal values but "it is not feasible nor productive to move our relationship with China" to something akin with North Korea, where active sanctions are in place.

Iain pointed out the reason the UK has taken exception to China is not only due to their Hong Kong security law and their terrible treatment of the Uighur Muslim: "You think it's us who needs to change our attitude rather than them."

Ms Gaston responded that the UK must be "pragmatic" in its approach to China and while it will not be easy, "it feels necessary for us to have a partnership with China."

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