It has taken a global pandemic, but the Western world has finally woken up to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party, argues Robert Amara

In recent years, the UK has appeased Beijing, eager to become their key European partner. Through careful diplomacy, the UK has become the major recipient of Chinese investment in Europe, and has even allowed Huawei (practically a Chinese state run company) a significant role in Britain’s 5G infrastructure network, despite warnings from security experts.

The coronavirus crisis, however, appears to be a turning point in Sino-British relations.

While the pandemic will change a lot of things in British politics, the biggest shift should come in the Government’s attitude towards China. Already, attitudes in the Government have shifted away from talking of a ‘golden era’, and this pandemic will doubtless have lasting ramifications on bilateral relations. However, we need to ensure this is more than just a semantic change, and that business as usually is simply no longer an option.

But what could this practically mean?

Well, the most obvious action is to reverse the decision to allow Huawei any role in building and maintaining the UK’s 5G infrastructure network. This would not only be prudent for national security reasons, but would send a clear message, that the days of the UK attempting to be China’s European partner are over. Secondly, sanctions need to be considered, and at a minimum the Government must step in to block  “strategic industries” being taken over by Chinese state run companies.

Contrary to popular belief, China doesn’t even rank as one of the UK’s top four trading partners. After this crisis has passed, the UK should strive for strategic independence, and begin scaling up domestic capacity to produce essential materials. By reducing our reliance on Chinese supply chains, and repatriating the production of medical equipment, the UK can ensure its own security, create jobs and confidently stand up to China.

Finally, the UK and its allies must reconsider their relations with Taiwan, a nation the UK doesn’t even currently recognise or maintain diplomatic relations with. The West’s meek acceptance of the one-china policy is shameful, especially given the role Taiwan played in attempting to warn the world of the dangers this virus posed, in stark contrast to China’s attempts to obfuscate and cover up its own role.

But above all, it needs to be remembered by policy makers that coronavirus has not been a natural, or unavoidable, disaster. China’s deceit during the early stages of this crisis has exacerbated its global impact. Too often, the current media narrative is based around our Government’s handling of the crisis, but as people look for who to blame for the economic catastrophe coronavirus has unleashed, we should all be looking to Beijing, not London, when it comes to finding the culprit.

The creation of the new “China Research Group” within the Conservative Party is a positive step. It’s time for the UK to end its dependency on Chinese money, and push for a global reckoning with China, to hold them to account. For too long, China has acted as a pariah state, and it’s time we started treating them like one.

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