China becoming adept at 'hostage diplomacy' says Conroy
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Speaking in the Commons, Conservative Tobias Ellwood warned that China represents “the biggest geopolitical long-term threat we face”. Mr Ellwood, who chairs the defence committee, made the claims as Parliament debated the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The review had been due to conclude last autumn, however it has still not been published, despite calls from MPs.
Mr Ellwood told the Commons: “For decades the West has turned a blind eye to its human rights abuses, its democratic deficit, hoping China would mature into a global, responsible citizen.
“Well, we have now realised that is not going to happen. China’s conduct in the pandemic, in Hong Kong, in the South China Sea along with its continued abuse of WTO rules and saddling dozens of countries into debt confirms China is pursuing a competing, long-term, geopolitical agenda which – left unchecked – will progressively see our world splinter into two spheres of influence.
“Economically, technologically and militarily China will challenge and possibly overtake US dominance in our lifetimes.
“Now militarily, China’s navy grows by the size of our navy every single year, it’s now introducing its own fifth-generation air force and its army is now the largest in the world.
“They are sending more rockets into space than all the other nations combined and perfecting space-based weapons.
“In my view, Cold War Two has already begun, but we are still in denial and too timid to call it out given China’s mighty economic clout.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has previously promised that the Integrated Review would help to deliver an “honest proposition for a modern workforce”.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat pressed ministers to publish the review.
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He said: “It (the Government) really does need to publish this Integrated Review.
“It has the most fantastic team in No 10 led by someone who was an adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee – so I admit to a bias there.
“And they could easily publish a fantastic report on how they see this going forward. Because bringing together the full arms of the state, all of the institutions that the British people have at their disposal, is exactly what we need to see if we are going to be able to fight our corner in the coming decade.”
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Also speaking during the debate, former Labour leader and now independent MP Jeremy Corbyn said that cutting the aid budget sends a “terrible message” to the rest of the world.
He told MPs: “It is a great shame, in fact it is more than a shame, it is terrible that on November 19 the Prime Minister announced that their defence expenditure would rise to 2.2percent of GDP and that an extra £24.1 billion would be spent over the next four years.
“And at almost the same time announced a reduction in the aid budget from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of GDP and the closure of the Department for International Development and subsuming it back into the Foreign Office where they always wanted it to be.
“I think that is a great shame and a terrible message to the rest of the world.”
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