Notes from the TE&M Forum 5 (5th February 2021)
“What we should do about China?”
Relations with China, led by the CCP, is a dominant issue, with potential to significantly affect the future development of our planet.
We need to appreciate the historic levels of repression within China but we need to continue to engage with them, to ensure the best outcomes in the future.
We also need to acknowledge that there is currently a very unbalanced relationship between the UK and China.
WE MUST ENGAGE ON SEVERAL LEVELS:
We in the Western Democracies should clearly state our principles. We need to present our political system as a positive role model, whilst being aware that democracy means that poor examples exist but can be criticised and overcome.
Vibrant cultural links are essential. However, we must be aware that there are profound cultural differences that need to be understood and where appropriate be applauded or criticised.
We must encourage our universities to continue to explain our culture and history but be very careful about accepting Chinese funding for educational programmes, as there is the risk that these are a politically motivated.
We must balance values versus economics by not being willing to appease China when human rights breaches are happening in mainland China and Hong Kong and to provide practical support within our means or those of our partners.
We should look to the International Courts with regard to rulings over breaches of human rights and genocide but specific actions and policies should be driven by our democratic institutions.
We need to focus on the systemic challenges, such as protecting the liberties we enjoy for future generations and restoring the fundamental values and freedoms of the Chinese People.
We need to develop skills to ensure cultural engagement operates in both directions. Through education and language we can exchange ideas. Mandarin needs to be taught wore widely!
We should be prepared to exercise influence over supply chains to and from China, if these chains have links with areas where human rights abuses are happening. This will mean that we must develop alternative markets, partnerships and sources of supply such as India, which we can leverage, as appropriate alternatives.
- POLITICALY & DIPLOMATICALLY
We need to understand and respect the cultural norms in our dealings with China.
We need to communicate and consistently observe our values in our dealings with the Chinese Government.
We need to form new Strategic Alliances. Our ability to exercise political and economic influence on the Chinese Government will be maximised by joining larger alliances. E.g. The Asia Trans-Pacific Partnerships. These should offset the alliances and dependencies which China is creating around the world by its investments in key infrastructure, such as ports and national communications platforms.
We need to be aware of and protect against the strategic use of social media and fake news as a weapon, to undermine the functioning of democratic governments and our social order.
We need a competent and balanced Communications Media that can accurately presents social and political issues around the world.
We all need to work with China on Climate Change Programmes.
We need to restrict the opportunities for Chinese companies to take ownership or have major interests in UK companies or the installation and / or operation of Infrastructure Projects. These should be considered as assets pertinent to national security or assets linked to the good government of the UK.
We need to make doing business with the UK easier but within a fair trading and regulatory framework. The objective should be an efficient regulatory system, which seeks parity of opportunity and acknowledges that the access to plentiful cheaper labour in China gives them an unfair economic advantage. The objective should be to achieve a “level playing field”.
We need to develop selling and marketing skills which enable us to showcase our products in the appropriate way for the Chinese Market.
We need to develop or re-establish the manufacturing base in the UK to provide alternatives to Chinese goods or components. UK manufacturers are currently using Chinese companies, even at component level because of a shortage of UK suppliers. E.g. Fine molecule production for fragrances and food flavourings. There is a need to balance health and safety regulations for imported and home produced products.
We need to work with others, such as the EU to ensure that all trading agreements with China fully embrace the human rights requirements of doing business with us and other countries around the world.