China’s president Xi Jinping ‘snubbed’ meeting with Rishi Sunak at G20 summit ‘over Britain’s support for Taiwan’
- Global Times alleged meeting did not go ahead due to Sunak’s Taiwan support
- Sunak’s failure to rule out military aid for Taiwan reportedly irritated Beijing
- Downing Street blamed schedules shifting for the cancellation of the meeting
- Sunak was expected to push for ‘frank and constructive’ relationship with China
Xi Jinping snubbed a bilateral meeting with Rishi Sunak on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali due to Britain’s support for Taiwan, it has been claimed.
Global Times, a Chinese government-controlled newspaper, said in an editorial that the meeting did not go ahead as Sunak had not ruled out sending military aid to help defend Taiwan from the Communist country. The prime minister’s stance reportedly irritated Beijing, who were also infuriated after minister of state for trade policy Greg Hands visited Taiwan.
The newspaper said: ‘London should really ponder the message behind such a statement, as should all other countries and forces attempting to play the ‘Taiwan card’ to threaten China’s sovereignty.
‘As long as London doesn’t stop its provocative behaviours on issues involving Beijing’s bottom line, there is no hope for improving bilateral relations. The UK has killed the possibility of having a dialogue with China.’
Global Times reported that politicians in China have asked the UK to ‘stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan secessionist forces and to support the ‘one-China principle.’
Meanwhile, Downing Street claimed that the meeting between Xi and Sunak was cancelled due to schedules shifting after to the missile strike on Poland and an emergency meeting of G7 and NATO leaders.
Sunak and Xi’s meeting was set to be the first bilateral between the UK and China in 50 years and the first chat between the two countries since 2018.
Mr Sunak had been expected to push for a ‘frank and constructive’ relationship with the Asian superpower but the talks were abruptly cancelled.
Global Times, a Chinese government-controlled newspaper, said in an editorial that the meeting did not go ahead as Sunak had not ruled out sending military aid to help defend Taiwan from the Communist country. Pictured: President Xi Jinping
Sunak and Xi’s meeting was set to be the first bilateral between the UK and China in 50 years
Mr Sunak yesterday said in the House of Commons: ‘China poses significant challenges to our values, interests, and indeed our economic security.
‘It’s right that we take the steps necessary to defend ourselves against them, but it is also wise to engage in dialogue where that makes a difference in solving some of the pressing global challenges that we all collectively face.’
The prime minister explained that he had spoken to Mr Biden about challenges posed by China with Biden at the summit.
Mr Sunak said America and allies such as Canada and Australia were following the same approach to China as the UK.
The prime minister explained that he had spoken to Mr Biden about challenges posed by China with Biden at the summit. Mr Sunak said America and allies such as Canada and Australia were following the same approach to China as the UK. Pictured: Sunak speaking to German, American and French leaders at the G20 summit in Bali
The prime minister’s speech in the Commons came after the British Government on Wednesday ordered technology company Nexperia to sell Newport Wafer Fab, Britain’s biggest microchip factory.
The government asked for at least 86 per cent of the area to be sold after a national security assessment.
Sunak said: ‘We will always be robust in defending our values and our interests, and that starts with our national security.’
When running for PM, Sunak had described China as the UK’s ‘number one threat’. This is not a line he has yet used again, instead branding the Communist country a ‘systemic competitor’ in foreign policy documents, according to the Telegraph.
Although Sunak and Xi’s talks did not go ahead at the G20 summit in Bali, the Chinese president met with several world leaders while at the event. These included French president Macron, US president Biden and Canada’s Justin Trudeau.
Recently, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz met Mr Xi in China, becoming the first Western leader to visit China since the pandemic.
Although Sunak and Xi’s talks did not go ahead at the G20 summit in Bali, the Chinese president met with several world leaders while at the event. Pictured: Mr Xi meets Macron
U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit on November 14
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with China’s President Xi Jinping at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali on November 16
Xi’s alleged snub of a meeting with Mr Sunak comes amid a fractured relationship between the two countries in recent months.
In June, Liz Truss, predecessor to Sunak and prime minister for a disastrous 44 days, suggested Britain could aid Taiwan with military equipment like it helped Ukraine. Her suggestion sparked controversy.
The cancelled meeting between Xi and Sunak comes after Mr Sunak’s other bilaterals went ahead, and UK officials suggested he had wanted the talks to happen.
Tories had mounted a furious backlash at signs the PM wanted to take a softer approach to Beijing, despite condemnation of its human rights record and influence, and failure to oppose the war in Ukraine.
Dozens of MPs have been barred from travelling to China over their critical stance, while Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has restricted access to Parliament for the ambassador to London.
Ahead of the summit Mr Sunak softened his tone by branding the country a ‘challenge’ rather than a ‘threat’ to British values.
It was a marked contrast to the Tory leadership contest, when he said ‘for too long’ Western leaders had ‘rolled out the red carpet and turned a blind eye to China’s nefarious activity and ambitions’.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said she had no information to offer on the cancellation of the meeting between Xi and Sunak.
Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns said it was ‘a shame’ that the talks were not happening.
‘Dialogue is vital to prevent miscalculations, and is not a sign of weakness,’ she said.
‘The trust deficit is palpable at this time, and meeting was important to set out our positions and build the ground to prevent miscalculations.’
Tories had mounted a furious backlash at signs the PM wanted to take a softer approach to Beijing, despite condemnation of its human rights record and influence, and failure to oppose the war in Ukraine. Pictured: Sunak at the G20
There have been serious differences between the UK and China over the British Government banning tech firm Huawei from 5G mobile phone networks amid security threats, a crackdown in Hong Kong that has led to refugees fleeing here, and human rights abuses against China’s Uighur ethnic group.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, co-chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, said on Wednesday: ‘I am worried that the present Prime Minister, when he meets Xi Jinping, will be perceived as weak because it now looks like we’re drifting into appeasement with China.
‘If we don’t have them down as a strategic threat then nothing gets done on the ever-pressing threat that they pose… in what world are they not a threat to us?
‘They’re a threat to our values, they’re a threat to economic stability, they’re a threat to us because of their failure to co-operate with the World Health Organisation early on and that led to Covid spreading all over the world.’
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, pictured, co-chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, said on Wednesday: ‘I am worried that the present Prime Minister, when he meets Xi Jinping, will be perceived as weak because it now looks like we’re drifting into appeasement with China’
And yesterday he criticised the government for not cracking down on ‘Chinese police stations’ in Britain.
These are, according to a report released last month by civil liberties group Safeguard Defenders, a global network of undeclared police hubs.
Dissenters are silenced at the police hubs, which are reportedly in three places in the UK including a Chinese restaurant in Glasgow.
Sir Iain said: ‘[They] seem to be completely ignorant or deliberately obtuse as to what is going on in them.
‘The biggest problem we face here… is the Foreign Office and the Treasury combined, are very resistant to any proactive activity taking place when it comes to China.’
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