Ambassador of China to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming accuses British politicians of vilifying China: “Regrettably, a few politicians in the UK have been addicted to the Cold War mindset.” His comment follows concerns of the Foreign Affairs Committee regarding China’s handling of COVID-19 since its initial outbreak in Wuhan. The UK has suffered more than 33,000 deaths due to the coronavirus, but has remained neutral in its attitude toward China, Great Britain’s fourth largest trading partner.
Perception of China throughout Europe is further strained due to Beijing and Huawei’s threats to secure the 5G market. Denmark’s Faroe Islands, France, and Germany were threatened with trade repercussions if Huawei was not given an advantageous 5G contract. China’s actions have generated concern that Beijing is trying to takeover hi-tech companies amid the economic chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, however, China’s Jingye Group bought British Steel, saving 3,200 jobs and promising to invest an additional £1.2 billion. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson advocates for free trade with China, Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove still has reservations: “It was also the case that some of the reporting from China was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this.” Johnson is facing pressure from the UK’s Five Eyes partners, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, after allowing Huawei 35% restricted access to Great Britain’s 5G network.
Afterward, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat formed the China Research Group to gain a “better understanding of China’s economic ambitions and global role.”
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