Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party, has called for an urgent “alliance of the free world” to stand up to China’s authoritarian regime.
The Brexiteer and chairman of the Sino-sceptic Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China said that the West must unite in its condemnation of China, calling the communist nation “a far greater threat” than Russia.
Writing in The Telegraph on Tuesday, Mr Duncan Smith warned that the threat posed by China has increased in recent months — Hong Kong security laws; the oppression of Uighur and Falun Gong minorities; expansionism in the South China Sea and threats against Taiwan — making the need for an alliance against the “totalitarian regime” more urgent.
“While the UK has begun to toughen its position, government after government has in effect kow-towed apologetically. A picture of the Chinese regime, all-powerful at home and aggressive abroad, is enough to leave Western governments fearful of upsetting them,” he wrote.
The UK has become emboldened to confront China, with Boris Johnson calling for an independent inquiry into the outbreak of coronavirus following China’s coverup and the prime minister recently reversing his decision to allow Huawei to build Britain’s 5G over security concerns.
However, Johnson’s Huawei decision may not have occurred had it not been for pressure from the China Research Group, another group comprised solely of Tory MPs that led the Conservative rebellion against the prime minister’s initial judgment.
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The importance of these Sino-sceptic bodies and the weight they hold in international circles was demonstrated this week when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo chose to meet first with the cross-party Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China during his UK visit, rather than the foreign secretary or the prime minister, both of whom he met after.
Reflecting on the meeting, its chairman said: “What struck me most was the sense of agreement around the room – we are not engaged in Sinophobia, and we do want to engage with China, but Beijing cannot be allowed to set the terms. The terrible human rights abuses, the disregard of the rules governing the free market and the aggression against its neighbours have to be called out.”
Mr Duncan Smith continued: “…what came out loud and clear from the meeting was the desire of the United States to work with its friends and allies, particularly with the UK. For if we are to ensure that our hard-fought liberties and freedoms are not to be trampled on and the terrible lessons of the past are to be heeded, we need an alliance of the free world and urgently.”
The leading Tory had echoed Mr Pompeo’s desire for a “coalition” of democratic nations that recognise the “threat” posed by China.
Mr Pompeo said during a press conference that he wants “every nation who understands freedom and democracy” to recognise “this threat that the Chinese Communist Party is posing” and unite to act appropriately.
“We hope we can build out a coalition that understands the threat and will work collectively to convince the Chinese Communist Party it’s not in their best interest to engage in this kind of behaviour,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
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Following talks with the American diplomat on Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also suggested that further discussion on the handling of China may be elevated to Group of Seven (G7) level.
The two diplomats’ remarks echo earlier reports that British and American officials are discussing a ‘Five Eyes-Plus’ or ‘D10’ union to develop a technological alternative to Huawei.
The union would likely be either the Five Eyes anglosphere intelligence-sharing network (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States), or a union of around ten democratic nations taken from the Five Eyes, the top economy nations known as the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and the U.S.) and other regional democracies India, Japan, and South Korea.
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