An updated strategy will describe Beijing as a “threat” rather than a “systemic competitor,” according to reports
The UK is poised to officially classify China as a “threat,” the British media reported on Tuesday. Prime Minister Liz Truss is ready to adopt a more hostile stance towards Beijing and has expressed support for self-governing Taiwan on multiple occasions.
The government is reportedly working fast to rewrite a strategic document released under Truss’ predecessor, Boris Johnson, to formalize a more hawkish approach towards Beijing. According to The Telegraph, the policy update, which was first flagged when Truss was campaigning to become Tory leader, could come “within days.’’
The policy paper in question, known as the “Integrated Review of Defence and Foreign Policy,” was released in March 2021. It calls China a “systemic competitor” and states that the country’s “increasing power and international assertiveness” will likely be the “most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s.” The review set a roadmap for Britain on the global stage for five years.
According to government sources cited by the press, the new update will change the designation to a “threat,” consistent with the approach that Truss wants to have towards Beijing.
“As she has said, Russia remains the biggest threat to the UK, but China represents the most serious long-term threat to our values and way of life,” a spokesperson for the government explained, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper suggested that the prime minister wanted to rally the support of China hawks among Conservative backbenchers. Influential Tory MPs welcomed the upcoming change during a meeting on Tuesday night, The Guardian added. Some have since cheered the news publicly.
“Having campaigned for this it’s time we stopped messing around and recognised that China poses a threat to the way we live our lives,” Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the Conservative Party, wrote on Twitter. “It’s time now to treat them in the same way we treat Russia,” he added.
Liam Fox, who competes with Duncan Smith for the chair of the select Foreign Affairs Committee, claimed that “both China and Russia have worldviews incompatible with our own.”
Truss’ intention to redesignate China as a “threat” was first reported in August, as she became a frontrunner to replace Johnson at the helm of the British government.
During her tenure as foreign minister, Truss labeled Chinese tech companies a security risk for Britain and advocated for sending more weapons to Taiwan, a self-governed Chinese island that became the flashpoint of a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Washington earlier this year.