The Government and China

This Month in Parliament 2

Questions in Parliament,  24th November 2021

Matthew Pennycook (Lab)  

Q7.   The Government’s integrated review has concluded that the Chinese state poses a systemic challenge to our national security, and the Prime Minister has made it clear that when it comes to China, we must remain vigilant about our critical national infrastructure. Can he therefore confirm unequivocally today that plans for China General Nuclear to own and operate its own plant at Bradwell in Essex have been abandoned, and explain to the House precisely how and when his Government intend to remove CGN’s interest from the Sizewell C nuclear project? (904336)

Boris Johnson

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important issue. Clearly, one of the consequences of our approach on critical national infrastructure in the National Security and Investment Bill is that we do not want to see undue influence by potentially adversarial countries in our critical national infrastructure. That is why we have taken the decisions that we have. On Bradwell, there will be more information forthcoming—[Interruption.] What I do not want to do is pitchfork away wantonly all Chinese investment in this country, or minimise the importance to this country of having a trading relationship with China.

_____________________

Boris was interviewed by John Micklethwait of Bloomberg News on 24 October in which he was even more of a Sinophile – after his remarks  Micklethwait asked him if was the last Sinophile in the cabinet (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-18/boris-johnson-interviewed-by-bloomberg-news-transcript)

Extract on China

JM: Can I ask you about another big country? You look around the world, the biggest source of investment at the moment, the biggest source of FDI is China, 130 billion dollars they’re investing overseas at the moment. You’ve come up with a strategy saying that you will let them invest in non-strategic assets, which seems to mean not Huawei, not technology and not nuclear power — and I wondered what sort of things will they be allowed to invest in? You’ve talked about infrastructure, they’re the biggest infrastructure…

BJ: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. Okay, so when I was running London, I went out several times to China and had fantastic trips there…

JM: But things have changed…

BJ: Well — there’s no — So investment in stuff that drives jobs and growth in this country whether it’s in development, look at what’s happening in Greenwich, Vauxhall Nine Elms, things have taken off there because of Chinese investment so I’m not going to tell you, John, that that the U.K. government is going to pitchfork away every overture from China, of course not. China is a gigantic part of our economic life and will be for a long time — for our lifetimes  — but that does not mean that we should be naive in the way that we look at our critical national infrastructure, the way you look at — you mentioned nuclear power — you mentioned 5G technology, those are all legitimate concerns that any government, many, many other governments around the world have. But I’ve said this many times, it’s worth repeating, I am no Sinophobe very far from it, I think —

JM: Do you think you’re the last Sinophile in the cabinet?

BJ: No, I expect there’s a lot of — look China is a great country..

The Government is at odds with some of the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which wants China accused of genocide over the Uyghur question.  Here is the government’s reply:

We are clear that these actions [treatment of Uyghurs] represent gross violations of human rights, for which China must be held to account. However it is the long-standing policy of the British Government not to make determinations in relation to genocide. Genocide is a crime and, like other crimes, whether it has occurred should be decided after consideration of all the evidence available in the context of a credible judicial process.”https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/7818/documents/81312/default/

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