Boris Johnson vows not to snub China and ‘pitchfork away’ cash from the Far East, despite backlash from MPs over espionage and human rights abuses
- Boris Johnson said China will continue to play a ‘gigantic part’ in the UK economy
- But he admitted it would be ‘naive’ to allow China to control vital infrastructure
- It comes amid concerns over Beijing’s human rights abuses and espionage
Britain will not ‘pitchfork away’ investment from China, the Prime Minister vowed yesterday.
He insisted he was not a ‘Sinophobe’ and said the country would continue to play a ‘gigantic part’ in the UK economy.
Britain will not ‘pitchfork away’ investment from China, the Prime Minister has vowed
But he admitted it would be ‘naive’ to allow the communist superpower to gain control of vital infrastructure such as 5G mobile phone networks or nuclear power.
His comments in an interview on Monday came as more than 100 MPs urged Parliament’s pension fund to ditch investments worth millions of pounds in firms linked to the Chinese state, or in firms accused of complicity in its censorship of the internet and suppression of minorities such as the Uyghur Muslims.
The letter – whose signatories include former ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Liam Fox – warned that Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent ‘regularly collaborate with the Chinese state in maintaining internet censorship through the ‘Great Firewall’ and have provided the government with surveillance patents for software which has been put to use against the Uyghurs’.
Britain has already angered China by banning tech firm Huawei from work on 5G infrastructure in the UK and by joining a new defence pact with Australia and the US, as well as by offering refuge to Hong Kongers fleeing a crackdown on democracy by Beijing.
But Mr Johnson told Bloomberg: ‘I am no Sinophobe, very far from it. China is a great country, a great civilisation. In spite of all the difficulties, in spite of all the difficult conversations about the Dalai Lama or Hong Kong or the Uyghurs, where we will continue to stick to our views, trade with China has continued to expand for a very long time.’
Xi Jinping has not left China for almost two years but there are hopes that he may yet make a surprise appearance at Cop26
He went on: ‘I’m not going to tell you the UK Government is going to pitchfork away every overture from China.’
He would not be drawn on whether or not China’s president will attend the crucial Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Xi Jinping has not left China for almost two years but there are hopes that he may yet make a surprise appearance. In a boost to the summit, China hailed Cop26 as ‘deeply significant’ and pledged to send a delegation, which will include special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua.
The envoy said his country wanted to work with the international community and would do its best to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
Amid a flurry of environmental plans and events ahead of the conference, the Prime Minister yesterday urged business leaders to invest more in green technology.
He told bosses gathered in London for the first Global Investment Summit: ‘I can deploy billions – with the approval of the Chancellor, obviously – but you in this room, you can deploy trillions.’
Mr Johnson appeared on stage with billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to pledge a joint £400million investment in promising new carbon-cutting technologies.