Rishi Sunak accuses Liz Truss of ‘rolling out the red carpet’ for China

They also said Mr Sunak had been “soft” on China, pointing out that just last year he said in his Mansion House speech: “Too often, the debate with China lacks nuance. It is one of the most important economies in the world… We can pursue with confidence an economic relationship with China in a safe, mutually beneficial way.”

Her team pointed out that the Treasury under Mr Sunak wanted to resume the Economic and Financial Dialogue and Joint Economic Trade and Cooperation summits with China. These had been paused in July 2020 after China imposed draconian new laws in Hong Kong.

They also point to the fact that the former chancellor was effectively endorsed by the China Global Times, which said: “Apart from Sunak, almost all the other candidates hold a very tough stance on China”, while singling out Sunak for praise for his “pragmatic approach” which “might improve” UK-China ties.

Treasury has ‘pushed hard for economic deal with China’

On Sunday night Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader who is the co-chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and a Truss supporter, said: “This ‘tough on China’ announcement is surprising.

“After all, over the last two years, the Treasury has pushed hard for an economic deal with China. This is despite China sanctioning myself and four UK parliamentarians.

“Despite China brutally cracking down on peaceful democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, threatening Taiwan, illegally occupying the South China Sea, committing genocide on the Uyghurs and increasing its influence in our universities.

“After such a litany, I have one simple question: where have you been over the last two years?”

Ms Truss’s team said she had toughened Britain’s stance on China since becoming Foreign Secretary, including calling out Beijing’s coercive economic tactics against other countries.

Her team said she had prioritised building closer economic ties with other countries to help reduce the UK’s supply chain and trade dependency on China. And they said she had been at the forefront of G7 plans to put more investment into developing countries to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

A spokesperson for Ms Truss said: “Liz has strengthened Britain’s position on China since becoming foreign secretary and helped lead the international response to increased Chinese aggression.

“This will only continue when she becomes Prime Minister and seeks to expand her network of liberty around the world.”

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