Rishi Sunak, the new UK PM, has been the subject of numerous speculations. What will his leadership mean for the world, what will his policies be like, and will he be able to deal with the many challenges that the UK’s conservative party has been experiencing due to its crumbling state?
Though there is still time until we get all the answers, one thing has started to become clear. Rishi Sunak might not be the one who gets scared of making tough choices. After a few days in power, he has already given a hint of his tough and dynamic foreign policy. Defying what might be expected of him to do, he earlier unfroze Russian oligarch’s assets worth millions, and now, unlike his predecessors, he has made it clear that he won’t be cozying up to China!
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While Sunak was running for the leadership race back in July, he emphasized China as the “number one threat” to UK’s domestic and global security. And by calling it so, he vowed to get tough on China as soon as he came to power. One thing he listed on his agenda to tackle this threat was to “kick the CCP out of UK’s universities.” And guess what? He has not forgotten what he pledged. New media reports say that Rishi Sunak is “looking to close” Confucius Institutes across UK universities.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat said while speaking in the House of Commons that this decision has been taken over security concerns. The minister said that these institutes are set up to “promote understanding of contemporary China,” but have previously been alleged to be used as a means of controlling the behaviour of Chinese students on behalf of the Chinese state.
There are 30 Confucius Institutes in the UK – the highest in the world. Reports have warned that the centres are “financially dependent upon funding from the Chinese Government and, in general, are subject to People’s Republic of China speech restrictions”
A report, by Henry Jackson, states, “Operating from under the umbrella of prestigious universities, Confucius Institutes have been informing government policy and politicians, assisting the establishment of science and technology partnerships, offering consultancy services to business, promoting trade, [and] running academic events supposed to shine a light on Chinese policy
Not only this but last week a takeaway in Glasgow was alleged to be a base of operations for “secret police” working on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. And this has added to the concerns of the Tories. Yes! China is operating its “secret police” throughout the world. At least 54 police-run “overseas police service centres” are established across five continents, with the sinister motive of tracking and harassing Chinese foreign nationals and dissidents. Three such stations are identified in the UK in Croydon, Hendon, and Glasgow.
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Earlier, it was reported that former British military pilots were being lured to China with large sums of money to pass on their expertise to the Chinese military. Up to 30 former UK military pilots are thought to have gone to train members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. There is little doubt that China is expanding its influence around the world, including in the UK. And if China is succeeding without any trouble, then governments must be failing to take any severe measures against it, allowing Beijing to sneak in under their radar.
You see, many nations, particularly Western nations, will discuss how to deal with an assertive China but will ultimately submit to it. Will the new UK PM follow suit? His actions suggest otherwise.
UK’s foreign policy under Sunak is clearly headed in the right direction as it acknowledges China as the number one threat. An assertive China is definitely what the world needs to counter, and Sunak is spot on with his initial move. And it also inspires confidence that Sunak will not hesitate to make the right choice and provide a much-needed improvement to the United Kingdom’s foreign policy.
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