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MS 4 - Chinese Interference in the United Kingdom

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Mr. Speaker, 

The Chinese Communist Party is the most evil regime currently in power, and poses a direct and immediate threat to the British people and to all free people wherever they live. As Prime Minister, one of my major policy aims will be to combat their influence abroad and here at home. Over the past decade, the political class on both sides of the aisle have grown overly comfortable in working with China and permitting them to engage in the domestic affairs of the United Kingdom. That ends today, Mr. Speaker. There is no sum of money that the United Kingdom could garner through trade with the Chinese that would be worth the grave price Britain pays by allowing our dependence on China to grow. The Chinese are playing a zero sum game, and their end goal is the destruction of freedom and the enslavement of free peoples. Democracy, self determination, and freedom depend on Britain's outright refusal to allow China's assault on these key values to continue. 

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to announce four actions the Government will be immediately taking to eliminate China's influence in the United Kingdom and to support our allies abroad who face the threat of Chinese persecution. Each of these actions is intended to put the CCP on notice, and send the crystal clear message that Britain is no friend to their authoritarian regime. I am joined by the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Education Secretary and Energy Secretaries to discuss these announcements. 

First, the Government will be rejecting China's bid to build and operate a nuclear reactor in South East England. While I thank the team at the Office of Nuclear Regulation for their recommendation that this agreement go ahead, I am not comfortable with the idea of a foreign company beholden to the CCP having a hand in the energy infrastructure of the United Kingdom. The company in question, China General Nuclear (CGN) Power Corp, has direct links to Xi Jinping and other key figures within the CCP. Every Chinese corporation, Mr. Speaker, answers ultimately to the CCP and Mr. Xi himself. As a result, allowing Chinese corporations to have any role in the energy infrastructure of the United Kingdom represents an immediate and unacceptable threat to our national security. I reject their bid, and also am ordering CGN to urgently dispense with their share in Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C. If they do not sell their shares in these two ventures, they will be seized by the British Government on national security grounds. Acquisition of these two ventures will be opened up for competitive bidding amongst corporations in allied nations. 

Second, the Government is ordering that all British universities operating Confucius Institutes terminate these programs within 60 days of this announcement. There are currently 30 Confucius Institutes operating at universities across the United Kingdom. The CCP uses these institutes, which exist around the globe, to spread Chinese state propaganda and indoctrinate the citizens of foreign nations. They are entirely inconsistent with Britain's tradition of operating universities that promote the free exchange of ideas, and advance free thinking and robust debate. The Education Secretary will be responsible for enforcing this order, and universities that refuse to comply will risk losing Government funding. British taxpayers will not be forced to subsidize the CCP's propaganda machine. Enough is enough. 

Third, in conjunction with the Defense Secretary, I am ordering a Government-wide review to determine the extent to which the United Kingdom sells non-lethal technology and other defense articles to China. In the past two years, the Government has permitted defense contracting companies to sell billions of pounds of "dual-use" technologies to the Chinese, which have in turn been used by the Chinese military to advance their geopolitical aims. Permitting the sale of these articles was a mistake, and they will not be allowed to continue in the future. This is the Government's formal notice that defense contractors operating in the United Kingdom will no longer be permitted to sell dual use goods to Chinese companies, or the Chinese military. Advancing the strength and capacity of the Chinese military runs counter to our national security goals. Any pending sales between British companies and the Chinese relating to dual use goods are to be terminated immediately. 

Fourth, in conjunction with the Home Secretary, I am announcing a new scheme related to Hong Kong. Effective immediately, young adults born to BNO status holders on or after July 1, 1997, an aged 18 or older will be able to independently apply for the BNO route. This change in law will allow thousands of young adults, who would otherwise not be eligible for BNO access, to apply for this visa and enjoy the benefits it confers. These young people deserve to remain with their families, and will no doubt become patriotic British citizens should they choose to become permanent residents of the United Kingdom. The brave, courageous, freedom loving people of Hong Kong will always have a friend in me, this Government, and the British people at large. In the face of Chinese oppression and tyranny, the United Kingdom welcomes them to our shores with open arms. 

I am proud to announce these four actions today, Mr. Speaker, and am confident that they comprise of meaningful and necessary measures to combat Chinese aggression, safeguard of national security, and promote our values abroad. Before I conclude, let me make one thing very clear: it is the Chinese government, and not the Chinese people, who are our enemy. There are many Chinese nationals who call Britain home, and many British citizens of Chinese descent. These people make our country stronger, and we are a better nation because of their contributions. Indeed, in standing up to the CCP and opposing the actions of the Chinese Government, we are standing in solidarity with the people of China who are by far the greatest victims of the CCP's tyranny. I look forward to routinely briefing the House about additional actions the Government is taking to counter Chinese aggression and defend our allies around the globe. 


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Mr Speaker,

I thank the Prime Minister for his first statement to the House.

I wonder if he might be hoping to find disagreement on this side of the House to the broad direction he is plotting. I do not, in fact, disagree that the world must hold the Chinese Communist Party to account for its constant and flagrant disregard for human rights, democracy, and self-determination around the world. China’s treatment of Uyghurs is despicable; the creeping oppression of Hong Kong disturbing; their routine debt-diplomacy the actions of an 18th century empire not a modern nation-state.

But I think we ought to remind ourselves, Mr Speaker, of why we are where we are today. It was only seven years ago that George Osborne stood up on a red stage and declared the Golden Decade. It was only recently that the member for Uxbridge told us that "China is a gigantic part of our economic life and will be for a long time - for our lifetimes" 

It is this Conservative Government that has allowed the Chinese government easy access to the British economy and to British infrastructure. This Government that - by retreating from its foreign aid pledge earlier this Parliament - retreated further from the nations that then only had China to turn to. 

And the trouble is, Mr Speaker, that these four prongs, as well-intentioned as they may collectively be, do not add up. There is no plan for implementation. No sense of the alternatives the Government will offer. No strategy for Britain to be a progressive force in the world countering Chinese influence among our allies and in the Commonwealth.

Take Hinkley Point, Mr Speaker. How does the Government plan to replace the nearly £9 billion in financing that CGN is providing to the project? Will it be replaced by Government financing, or will it simply go out to a different bidder - knowing full well that they have us in a bind of a bargaining position and charging UK bill payers even more? 

Perhaps more importantly, we have been repeatedly told that CGN brings vital expertise to the project. If that expertise is lost, how does the Government intend to replace it: and does he now regret that this Conservative Government has repeatedly rejected calls to invest in our domestic nuclear and low-carbon expertise in favour of oursourcing it?

Finally on this matter Mr Speaker, what will the Prime Minister do to reassure other investors - particularly those that may need to replace CGN's investment in Hinkley Point C - that his Government will not be in the market for expropriation of their assets? Britain, although perhaps not this Government, is known as a safe bet that keeps its word and plays the bat straight. It is critical we maintain that.

Their third action, Mr Speaker, speaks to dual use goods. What is their plan when Chinese authorities inevitably retaliate?  British businesses import £67.6bn a year from China. It is all good and well to divest - but there is no alternative plan.

George Osborne and the previous Prime Minister rolled out the red carpet to China, and this is the result. China owns £143bn of assets in the UK - including a 49% stake in HSBC - and invests a further £5bn a year.

Without an alternate plan, this u-turn means lost jobs, lower investment, and a higher cost of living.

The Prime Minister's final proposal is, on paper, a good idea. However, the Prime Minister needs to set out what background checks will be in place, how the integrity of the scheme will be maintained, and what he will do to ensure that those who come here are supported into British society and local communities. Without that, it risks being a policy made on the hoof, rather than the outward looking and fair proposition that it ought to be.

Mr Speaker, to sum up: while we may share the Prime Minister's discomfort with growing Chinese influence and their anti-democracy, anti-human rights agenda; we have serious doubts that this Government has the plan or the alternative to take it forward. Over the last twelve years they have rolled out the red carpet to the Chinese Communist Party, inviting them to invest in Britain. They have let investment, jobs, businesses become dependent on Chinese investment and ties to the Chinese economy. I welcome that they have woken up to the fact that was a mistake, and support Britain taking a stronger stand in the world against the anti-democracy, anti-human rights, anti-minority views and actions of this totalitarian regime. But their lack of an alternative plan means that the Tory flirtation with the Chinese Communist Party will end up costing jobs, investment, and infrastructure in this country. 

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