Sunak’s Advocates for Tougher Stance on China Gain Momentum

Rishi Sunak talks tough on China (Credits: Politico)

In a statement today, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden will address a significant issue: how to handle China’s growing hostility, which the government claims is behind cyberattacks on British citizens and politicians.

Dowden is set to speak around 3:30 pm and is expected to announce new penalties for individuals involved in a 2021 hack on the Electoral Commission, which holds data for 40 million British citizens.

In addition to this announcement, a select group of MPs and a peer, all critical of China, will receive private briefings about specific cyber threats from the country. However, some are concerned that only Conservative MPs receive these briefings, raising questions about fairness.

Rishi Sunak (Credits: The Wall Street Journal)

The issue of China divides the Conservative Party, with today’s events adding fuel to the ongoing debate within the party over the government’s stance on China. S

ome, like former cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke, believes the government needs to stop being naive about China’s intentions, citing repeated evidence of harmful behavior. Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a leading critic of the government’s approach, accuses them of weakness in dealing with cyber threats from Beijing.

However, the foreign secretary, Lord Cameron, is expected to address these concerns later, though some doubt whether his address will satisfy critics. Cameron has been criticized for being too soft on Beijing, especially given his past interactions with Chinese officials as prime minister.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith

Rishi Sunak, speaking earlier today, reiterated the government’s position that China poses a significant challenge. However, many Conservative MPs feel this stance doesn’t go far enough.

During Dowden’s statement, expect many hawkish Tories, including Liz Truss, to challenge the government’s position. Truss has long advocated for a tougher stance on China, even initiating a review to rebrand Beijing as a “threat” during her time as prime minister.