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The need for a hard stance on China

Few would envy the Prime Minister right now.

Among his shambolic response to the coronavirus pandemic and inability to get his chief adviser in check, Boris Johnson is allegedly reconsidering his decision to give Huawei a limited role in the building of 5G infrastructure as part of his vision for a tech-efficient Britain.

Many in his own party are concerned about the massive telecommunications company effectively being run by the Chinese Communist Party and the major security risks this poses. Johnson’s friends across the Atlantic are putting pressure on the Prime Minister to put distance between the UK and Huawei, with the US recently designating the company a “national security threat.”

No matter what decision he makes, it will prove to be an unpopular one. Huawei has long been involved in British infrastructure projects and many in the telecommunications industry believe the Chinese firm is essential to build a world-leading 5G network.

Johnson’s potential U-turn has been sparked by a recent GCHQ report that reassessed the risks posed by the Chinese technology company.

While many believe a decision to bar Huawei will do little to harm China and simply leave Britain behind other 5G-capable countries in the future, GCHQ concluded that US sanctions banning Huawei from using technology relying on American intellectual property has had a severe impact on the company.

Britain cannot ignore the human rights record of Xi Jinping and his Government. Westminster must take a much harder stance due to the numerous atrocities of the Chinese Communist Party that are well documented.

Suppressing any academic who so much as questions their leadership, restricting freedom of expression and forcing through a security bill for Hong Kong dressed up as counter-terrorism legislation are just some of the policies that cannot go unchecked.

Beijing has claimed that its new Hong Kong security law applies to anyone in the world. Article 38 of the legislation states: “This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.”

We need to do all we can to contest China’s moral vision of the future.

This essentially means that provision of the law applies to everyone outside of Hong Kong – including you. It is the latest attempt by Xi to try stifle debate outside of China and force those with any commercial ties to its country to stay silent.

The greatest human rights violation happening in China right now, and probably the world, is the subjugation of the Uighur Muslim population.

The issue should weigh on our mind’s more. The fact that in the modern world one of the richest countries in the world has over a million people in literal concentration camps is nothing short

China brands these “re-education camps” and at first denied rumours of mass incarnation of Uighurs, portraying the allegations as nothing more than deranged conspiracy theories.

A group of Uighurs in exile recently submitted evidence to the international criminal court, calling for an investigation into senior Chinese officials for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Their accusations claim that claims that countless Uighurs were unlawfully deported from Tajikistan and Cambodia to Xinjiang where they were subjected to imprisonment, torture as well as forced birth control, sterilisations and marriages among other crimes.

This just adds to the list of human rights abuses committed in these camps.

A leaked document signed by a Chinese official last year revealed that camps must:

  • Adhere to a strict system of total physical and mental control, with multiple layers of locks on dormitories, corridors, floors and buildings.
  • Be run on a points system. Inmates earn credits for “ideological transformation”, “compliance with discipline” and “study and training”.

There have also been multiple reports from people who have passed through the camps that they have witnessed first hand people being tortured, abused and raped.

Of course, it’s not so simple as cutting all our major ties with the CCP. China is a massive trading partner. A staggering amount of our imports come from the Asian country.

“The greatest human rights violation happening in China right now, and probably the world, is the subjugation of the Uighur Muslim population.”

But we are far too dependent on China. We need to diversify. This means that we need to be willing to potentially pay more for imports. If we were willing to disinvest from South Africa in protests to the apartheid system then we must be willing to disinvest from China in some capacity.

This can’t just be some move to please our American counterparts. But as much as they are doing it for their own political gain, those in the White House raise some good points about the abuses of the CCP. The ruling party in Washington are eager to appear but concerns over intellectual property and the Chinese state’s role in Huawei is cause for concern.

The decision facing the Prime Minister is hard for a man who just wants to be loved by all. It is naïve to imagine Britain has the ability to change Xi Jinping’s mind on his own policies but we need to do all we can to contest its moral vision of the future.

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