Coronavirus Cold War:Treat China like Soviet Russia, says ex-minister

The new ‘Cold War’: Ex-deputy prime minister Damian Green says we should be treating modern China as ‘an aggressive adversary’ like Soviet Russia with blast at its ‘dubious attitude to statistics’ over coronavirus pandemic

  • Green said a rethink was needed in dealing with the Communist state
  • Criticised Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which started in China
  • Accused Communist regime of a ‘dubious attitude to statistics’ over death toll  
  • Ex-minister also a critic of plans to allow Huawei a role in 5G telecoms network 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Britain must toughen up its attitude to China and treat it more like the former Soviet Union in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a former Cabinet minister warned today.

Damian Green said that the contagion, which started in the Asian nation, plus the row over Beijing tech giant Huawei and its access to 5G networks, showed that a rethink was needed in dealing with the Communist state.

Mr Green, 64, who was Theresa May’s de-facto deputy prime minister between 2016 and 2017, criticised Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has now spread around the world.

In an article for the Conservative Home website he argued that ‘it is clear that a deeper look at the long-term interdependence of Western capitalism and Chinese communism will take place’.

He said that the viewpoint of the past decade, that ‘the economic gain from linking our economy closely with the Chinese was worth the obvious risks’, would have to change.

He argued that is has not worked and that China was continuing to act as ‘an aggressive adversary’ on the world stage, building up its military and commercial might.

‘The UK stance towards China, regrettably, may have to become similar to our attitude to Russia in the more peaceful stages of the Cold War,’ he said.

Damian Green said that the contagion, which started in the Asian nation, plus the row over Beijing tech giant Huawei and its access to 5G networks, showed that a rethink was needed in dealing with the Communist state

Mr Green said it is ‘undeniable’ that the pandemic – which has, as of 5pm on Sunday, seen 1,408 people die in UK hospitals after testing positive for Covid-19 – started in China (pictured) due to lax hygiene practices.

‘Co-operate where we can, but guard when we must. It is a depressing prospect in many ways, but at least we can console ourselves with the thought the right side won the Cold War in the end. 

‘We need to protect our values as well as our economy.’

Mr Green is one of a large group of Tory MPs who were already opposed to detente with Beijing over Huawei before the coronavirus outbreak.

His comments come after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested on Monday that a ‘lessons learnt’ inquiry would be needed in the aftermath of the crisis due to questions surrounding China’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Green said it is ‘undeniable’ that the pandemic – which has, as of 5pm on Sunday, seen 1,408 people die in UK hospitals after testing positive for Covid-19 – started in China due to lax hygiene practices.

His comments are a nod to reports that wet markets in the Communist country, where live animals are sold, could have been behind the outbreak in Hubei province. 

‘The irritation of the British Government with its Chinese counterpart, both for the delay in informing international bodies of the arrival of coronavirus and for its slightly dubious attitude to statistics, has been obvious in recent days, he said.

‘Whatever charges can be laid at the door of others, it is undeniable that the pandemic started because of unhygienic practices in Chinese markets, which have been known about for years, and that the Chinese authorities were dilatory in informing the World Health Organisation about the outbreak.’

The former welfare secretary argued that a ‘deeper look at the long-term interdependence of Western capitalism and Chinese communism’ would ‘take place’ once countries were done fighting their respective health emergencies.

Governments across the world have been forced to impose draconian lockdowns on society and build field hospitals in a bid to stem and deal with the coronavirus outbreaks on their shores.

Mr Green said Britain should rethink its policy of fostering relations with China and review dependence on the powerhouse within global supply chains.

Already a vocal critic of Boris Johnson’s decision to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei a role in the UK’s fledgling 5G network, he made the case for UK manufacturers to use factories outside China for their products to protect supply lines, looking to the likes of Vietnam and Cambodia instead.

The freedom of the internet would also need to be protected against tightening Chinese regulation, Mr Green argued, highlighting the state’s control over the use of Facebook among its 1.4 billion population. 

Fellow Tory MP Bob Stewart was forced to apologise this week after referring to the Covid-19 virus as ‘the foul Chinese illness’ but said the description was not intended to denigrate Chinese people.

 

 

 

 

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