U.K. Prime Minister Battles Coronavirus, MPs Call for Distancing from Chinese Communist Party
(Minghui.org) One day before assuming office as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister on July 24, 2019, Boris Johnson said his government would be very “pro-China” during an interview with a news outlet in Hong Kong. He also supported the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is viewed by many as China’s expansion of its power in Europe.
Moreover, Johnson said, he planned to keep the U.K. as “the most open economy in Europe” for Chinese investment.
On March 27, 2020, Johnson announced he tested positive for coronavirus, making him the first head of a major Western country to be infected. On April 6, news came that Johnson had been moved to intensive care after his symptoms worsened.
The coronavirus was first detected by a group of medical professionals in Wuhan in late 2019, but the CCP silenced the whistleblowing doctors. The communist regime’s continued cover-ups and disinformation led to a global pandemic, prompting some observers to call it the “CCP virus.” As of April 6, 2020, close to 1.3 million people in over 200 countries had been infected, and over 70,000 had died.
Some Members of Parliament (MPs) in the U.K. believe Johnson’s close relationship with the CCP, including his favoring of Huawei, poses a major risk for the nation’s future. Many of them spoke out to debunk the lies propagated by the CCP.
Green Light for Huawei
The U.K.’s National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Johnson, approved Huawei as a supplier for 5G equipment on January 28, 2020, even though it was considered a “high-risk vendor.”
Some parliament members expressed their concerns. “Given the fact that we are at war, in a sense - there is a cyber war going on, in which China is arguably the single biggest participant - that we should think about giving a company which is heavily subsidised by China, a country that has set out to steal data non-stop, and also technology, that we think of giving to them that right to be in what is essentially a very, very delicate area of our technology, the idea that we would do that seems to me utterly bizarre,” said MP Iain Duncan Smith.
Because of the firm’s connection with the Chinese military as well as theft of intellectual property, the U.S. government has charged Huawei and two subsidiaries on February 13, 2020, with federal racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets from American companies.
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton said the decision from the U.K. is “like allowing the KGB to build a telephone network” in the U.K. during the Cold War. Tom Tugendhat, MP, and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, agreed. “We'll never make Huawei ‘safe’. It must be stripped from UK networks as quickly as possible,” he wrote on Twitter on February 9.
The action will likely threaten other countries, including the Five Eyes intelligence community, remarked Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party. Besides the U.K., the Five Eyes alliance also consists of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
Duncan Smith and other conservative members of the parliament proposed an amendment for Johnson to set out a timetable to exclude Huawei from future 5G networks. But the House of Commons voted down the measure with 306 votes to 282 on March 10, 2020.
Huawei has been offering incentives to various countries when facing bans, reported Politico on February 28. “The company has floated multimillions of euros in investments into research facilities and manufacturing centers to countries including the Netherlands, France, Germany, the U.K., and Poland in the past year,” wrote the article. “Investments were often proposed at meetings where Huawei's executives also pushed back on attempts to restrict the use of its equipment in 5G networks.”
According to an article from Business Insider, on September 24, 2019, Huawei had opened an artificial intelligence lab in London. The company intends to increase its number of engineers in London to 200 as it works on AI-related to computer vision. Since then, it has held many events promoting its 5G-related technologies.
“If a company like Huawei is asked to cooperate with Chinese State Security spies, its executives simply can’t say no,” wrote New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on April 3, 2019.
Close Relationship with the CCP
In an interview last year with Phoenix TV, a pro-CCP media outlet in Hong Kong, Johnson said he was “very enthusiastic” about the Belt and Road Initiative. “We are very interested in what President Xi is doing [for the plan],” he said.
He also said that Britain was the first Western country to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). “Don’t forget [we are] the most open international investment [destination], particularly [for] Chinese investment. We have Chinese companies coming in to do Hinkley, for instance, the big nuclear power plant,” he said.
Back in April 2012, when he was running for re-election as the mayor of London, Johnson opened an account on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform. On his first day visiting China as Mayor of London in October 2013, he launched the Chinese version of the official London government website.
On June 17, 2019, the Shanghai-London Stock Connect program was launched. This allows the stock markets in London and Shanghai to issue, list and trade depositary receipts on the counterpart's stock market.
Although Johnson supported the democratic movement in Hong Kong, the above activities, including the launch of Shanghai-London Stock Connect program, provided huge financial benefits to the communist regime in China.
Partnership with China Following Brexit
While maintaining its relationship with the United States following Brexit, the U.K. has also been strengthening business ties with China. In 2018, China was the U.K.’s sixth-largest export market (£22.6 billion) and fourth-largest source of imports (£44.7 billion).
Between January and August 2019, Chinese firms purchased 15 businesses with a total value of $8.3 billion. This includes Ant Financial (an Alibaba affiliate)'s purchase of World First (a foreign exchange broker) in February and Hillhouse Capital's acquisition of Loch Lomond Group in June.
An article from the BBC on November 13, 2019, reported the purchase of British Steel by Chinese steelmaker Jingye, which outbid other bidders. “Indeed, it was the flood of steel coming from Chinese overproduction that saw the UK steel industry have a near-death moment in 2016 before strong EU anti-dumping measures that imposed big tariffs on Chinese steel imports offered the industry a degree of protection,” wrote the article.
In September 2019, the Hong Kong stock exchange offered a surprise bid of $37 billion to buy the London stock change. The latter rejected the offer, referring to it as “simply not credible” and not even a basis for negotiation. Analysts said part of the concern was the Hong Kong exchange’s ties with the ruling Communist Party in Beijing, reported Market Watch.
News media reported on January 2, 2020, that Beijing would halt the Shanghai-London Stock Connect program due to the U.K.’s position on the Hong Kong democratic movement. After the turmoil, however, the program continued normally on the following day.
Distancing the CCP
Close ties with communist China poses many risks. “The question is: are we to remain with the Western democracies that have always been our allies, or are we to throw our lot in with the Chinese Communist Party?” wrote Nigel Farage in Newsweek on February 22, 2020, about approving Huawei for 5G, “There is no room for compromise.”
He said many former government officials now work in Huawei. “The ugly truth is that China has bought and paid for the UK establishment,” he continued. “Aiding and abetting Huawei's move into Britain's 5G network is the London-based PR industry.”
Besides Boris Johnson, his father Stanley had a 90-minute meeting with the Chinese ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, weeks earlier. “Johnson Snr emailed UK officials outlining Xiaoming's worries that his son Boris had failed to send a personal message of support after the coronavirus outbreak. This fascinating insight only became public because Johnson Snr accidentally copied the BBC into his message,” wrote Farage, adding that Boris’s brother and step-brother also had connections with China.
Quite a few government officials and NGO leaders in the U.K. have raised concerns about Johnson's coziness with the CCP.
On April 2, 2020, David Alton MP posted a reply from Dominic Raab, British Foreign Affairs Secretary, after Hong Kong democratic advocates were arrested: “Yesterday’s arrests in Hong Kong call to mind the “knock on the door at the dead of night” and the rounding up of opposition voices by the NKVD/KGB, the Gestapo... The methodology and practices of the Cultural Revolution, along with the totalitarianism and intolerance of authoritarian States, should be consigned to history, not mimicked in Hong Kong.” Alton also urged Raab to take actions ensuring Hong Kong’s freedom.
Reflecting on the damage of the coronavirus from China, Duncan Smith MP warned against further yielding to the CCP. “Remember how George Osborne made our relationship with China a major plank of UK Government policy? So determined were Ministers to increase trade that they were prepared to do whatever was necessary,” he wrote in the Daily Mail on March 28. “Indeed, I am told that privately this was referred to as Project Kow-Tow – a word defined by the Collins dictionary as ‘to be servile or obsequious’.” His article was titled “We must stop kowtowing to these despots.”
Human rights advocate and journalist Benedict Rogers wrote on Twitter, “Let's call it the Communist Party coronavirus.” Luke de Pulford, founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response who also sits on the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, wrote on Twitter, “The Chinese Communist Party is the single largest perpetrator of contemporary slavery.”
“We are only in the early miles of this marathon emergency but already we can see some of the long-term choices that will face governments when it is over,” wrote Damian Green MP on March 31, 2020. “The UK stance towards China, regrettably, may have to become similar to our attitude to Russia in the more peaceful stages of the Cold War. Co-operate where we can, but guard when we must.”