COVID-19 made China more aggressive, says former UK top aide

Nick Timothy told POLITICO that one positive from the pandemic would be to 'correct' the UK's relationship with China.

COVID-19 made China more aggressive, says former UK top aide

Theresa May’s former chief of staff said the U.K. has been “incredibly naive” in its handling of China.

Speaking to London Playbook Editor Jack Blanchard on Wednesday, Nick Timothy was highly critical of both the Chinese state and the U.K’s relationship with the superpower.

“I feel we have been incredibly naive in the way that we have handled China,” he said.

Timothy added that China has grown more aggressive of late, and hasn’t been “cowed by the [coronavirus] pandemic.” Recent events like protests in Hong Kong over new Chinese security laws are “showing the world the reality of the Chinese regime,” he said. “COVID has actually prompted them to become more assertive and more aggressive.”

The U.K. government has previously tried to woo China, with former Chancellor George Osborne even pronouncing the beginning of a “golden era” of Britain-China relations in 2015. Asked if Osborne was wrong on China, Timothy said: “In a word: yes.”

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government defied U.S. President Donald Trump and took the decision not to ban Chinese tech company Huawei from building parts of the U.K.’s 5G network.

However, in recent days the government has taken a more aggressive approach toward the country. Earlier Wednesday, Johnson wrote an opinion piece in the Times explaining that Britain will not walk away from the people of Hong Kong and will have “no choice” but to offer three million people a route to U.K. citizenship if China strips them of their freedom.

The Huawei decision, combined with concern about China’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, has led to increased scrutiny of the U.K.’s relationship with China, including the formation of a new group of Conservative MPs known as the China Research Group.

“When I worked in the Home Office, I was party to a lot of reports from intelligence agencies, and got a gory close-up view of what the Chinese state gets up to in Britain and other places. There’s absolutely massive industrial espionage going on and has been for years,” Timothy said. “Aside from industrial espionage, there has been massive dumping of Chinese goods and they have been setting debt-traps for countries around the world.”

“If one of the good things that can emerge from [the coronavirus pandemic] is that we can correct our relationship with China, and become more realistic while learning to protect ourselves and defend our interests and those of our allies, I would welcome that,” Timothy said.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Trump: It’s ‘common sense’ to invite Putin to G7

The US president also announced plans late last month to expand the G7 to include four additional nations.

Trump: It’s ‘common sense’ to invite Putin to G7

President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his push to re-invite Russia to the Group of Seven summit later this year — arguing that President Vladimir Putin’s inclusion at the annual meeting of the most economically advanced countries is a matter of “common sense.”

“He’s not there. Half of the meeting is devoted to Russia, and if he was there, it’d be much easier to solve. He used to be,” Trump told “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade on his Fox News radio show.

The problem is, many of the things that we talk about are about Putin, so we’re just sitting around wasting time because then you have to finish your meeting and somebody has to call Putin or deal with Putin on different things,” the president added. “And I say, have him in the room. Have him in the room.”

Trump late last month announced plans to expand the G7 to include four additional nations — Australia, India, Russia and South Korea — and indicated he would postpone this year’s summit, which the United States is scheduled to host, until sometime before November’s general election.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have both expressed their opposition to the readmission of Russia, which was suspended from what was previously the Group of Eight after illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Trump has repeatedly blamed Russia’s exclusion from the group on former President Barack Obama, and said Wednesday his White House predecessor “got taken over to the cleaners” and “had his pockets picked” by Putin during diplomatic dealings.

Trump also said that while “it’s not a question of what [Putin has] done,” he suggested the Russian president partly earned a seat at the group’s table for having “helped us with the oil industry, which was good for him, too.”

OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations in April finalized an unprecedented production cut of nearly 10 million barrels in a bid to boost crashing prices amid the coronavirus pandemic and a price war.

On Wednesday, OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to a preliminary deal to extend existing output cuts while raising pressure on countries with poor compliance to deepen their reductions, Reuters reported.

Source : Politico EU More   

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