2020 has been a sad state of affairs, especially for China. Pushed out by numerous states, banned, or just called out for being faulty, things couldn’t have gone more wrong until it did. The United Kingdom has launched a napalm strike against Chinese tech and investments and it’s going to hurt China badly.
Amid the Chinese domestic debt uncontrollably rising, a failing BRI and worsening bi-lateral relations with the EU, the United Kingdom’s government has delivered it another blow. Tensions with the US, the threat of national security from Chinese telecom giant Huawei, and Chinese apathy towards Hong Kong’s democratic structures have boiled over and the UK has retaliated. The end of Chinese technology and investment in tech sectors of Europe and the British Isles seem to be on the verge of withering and the latest actions by the Her Majesty’s government have just ensured the same.
The UK government has launched a website this week warning tech companies of the complications that can arise from expanding into China and accepting Chinese investment. Moreover, not just being asked to engage with caution, the government has also imposed hefty fines on companies not abiding by these regulations.
The website comes with the slogan, ‘China. See the Potential. Know the Challenge’ and was developed in response to demand from the UK tech sector to guide them through the murky waters of Chinese investments. The website is intended as a guide to support good practices and raise awareness of potential risks associated with expanding in China and doing business with Chinese companies.
Caroline Dinenage, the Minister of Digital and Culture in the UK, said, “The UK is determined to support our businesses to engage with China in a way that reflects the UK’s values and takes account of national security concerns.”
The recent rhetoric of National security concerns voiced by the digital and culture minister has echoed throughout the West as well as in India.
Moreover, China’s blotted Human Rights history is of real concern to states in the West especially the US and the UK. The website in a section mentions the risk of technology being used to violate Human rights. “There is a risk that your company’s technology could be used to violate human rights, posing a significant risk to your business’s reputation,” the website states in a section that highlights reports of heavy internet censorship and mass surveillance of ethnic minorities.
The website comes at a precarious situation considering the poor state of bilateral relations between the two states. After banning Huawei completely, the British government has asked all of the operators to rip out all the Huawei equipment out of their 5g networks by 2027 and any failure to adhere would cost the operators a fine of £100,000 or 10% of the turnover per day.
Expectedly, Beijing accused Britain of improperly attacking Chinese tech companies. A ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “Without any evidence, the British side has repeatedly cooperated with the United States to discriminate against and suppress Chinese companies under the pretext of unfounded risks, “Britain is “blatantly violating the principles of market economy and free trade, seriously damaging the normal operations of Chinese companies” and hurting trust between the two governments,”.
While America and India continue to ban Chinese spy applications and technologies, the UK’s blow would further derail the Chinese economy. Already in chaos, the world order is not looking forward to the ever-rising Chinese influence and this is a statement of Intent from the United Kingdom.