Theresa May: ‘Special relationship’ with US should not prevent UK from working with China
A lack of international cooperation on the pandemic risks fuelling nationalism, she warned.
A lack of international cooperation on the coronavirus pandemic risks exacerbating nationalism and populism and increasing divisions, former British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Wednesday.
In her first op-ed since quitting as PM last year, May said it was understandable that governments’ first impulse was to protect their citizens from the pandemic, but criticized world leaders for subsequently failing to band together to deal with the crisis.
“There remains no collective international view as to what works best in dealing with the virus — nor does there seem to have been any attempt to form one,” May wrote in the Times. “This risks exacerbating the shift towards nationalism and absolutism which is emasculating the institutions that served us well over decades. A world in which a few ‘strong men’ square up to each other and expect everyone else to choose between them would be a dangerous one.”
May urged Britain and the West to work with Beijing in the wake of the pandemic, despite criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are real questions about the initial reaction of the Chinese government at local and national level and what impact that had on the ability of the rest of the world to prepare,” May wrote. “Both candidates in November’s U.S. presidential election are right to ask questions of China. But it would be a mistake to allow this to become a fault line in international relations.”
She said: “The U.K. will always have a special relationship with the U.S. … but that has never stopped us from having diplomatic and trading relationships with others.”
May added that frustration with the World Health Organization (WHO) should not be used to discredit the tradition of cooperation, but rather as motivation to reform the body.
Last month, Trump accused the WHO of failing to properly respond to the disease and communicate its threat, suggesting it was too closely allied to Beijing, and halted funding to the body while his administration reviews its handling of the pandemic.