Tory party ‘acted swiftly’ to block would-be MPs after MI5 warnings

The Conservative party “acted swiftly” to block two potential parliamentary candidates from standing, after warnings from MI5 that they could be spying for China, a government minister has said. The health minister Maria Caulfield was speaking after it was revealed that the Tories dropped two potential candidates to become MPs after MI5 warned they had links to China’s United Front Work Department, a body charged with influencing global policy and opinion. The Times reported that concerns were raised over the pair separately in 2021 and 2022. They were subsequently blocked…

Forget ‘Chinese spies’, trade not espionage should be Britain’s main concern with China | Simon Jenkins

Today’s claim that a Chinese spy in his 20s cruising the Westminster drinks circuit might pose a threat to the British state is absurd. MPs always overstate their role in foreign affairs. Boris Johnson, back in 2017 when he was foreign secretary, might have felt a macho thrill from sending an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea – where it could be sunk in an hour – but Britain’s defences are no more vulnerable to Chinese attack than China’s are to Britain. It is all defence lobby hyperventilation. Linking…

Badenoch says it would be mistake to call China a ‘foe’ as spy suspect arrest revives Tory calls to toughen approach – UK politics live

Good morning. One of the many aspects of politics that has changed dramatically over the past decade is the way the government views China. David Cameron came to power determined to establish warm relations with Beijing, but in recent years relations have deteriorated considerably and a Conservative government that views China with considerable suspicion is being urged by some of its hawkish backbenchers to go much further, and to treat it as a hostile opponent. The revelation yesterday that a parliamentary researcher linked to the Conservative has been arrested on…

Cleverly’s humiliating China visit was the perfect symbol of isolated, ill-led ‘global Britain’ | Simon Tisdall

Like a proselytising lay minister naively intent on calming troubled waters, foreign secretary James Cleverly flew into Beijing this week on a whinge and a prayer. The whinge comprised a long list of British grievances ranging from China’s attitude to Ukraine and Hong Kong to its spying on UK officials and sanctions on MPs. Cleverly’s prayer was that his hosts would not realise that, when it comes to pursuing a coherent China policy based on deliberate, principled choices backed by political will and economic muscle, rudderless Britain is all at…

Thursday briefing: What we learned from the foreign secretary’s trip to China

Good morning, or perhaps 你好 (nǐ hǎo). Hopefully James Cleverly got at least that far on Duolingo before the UK foreign secretary’s plane touched down in Beijing this week on a trip aimed at resetting ties after a long period of tension over security, investment and human rights concerns at home and abroad. It was the first visit to China by a UK foreign secretary for five years. Remember the last time, when Jeremy Hunt somehow ended up announcing that his Chinese wife was Japanese? Very odd. The meeting also…

The Guardian view on the UK and China: Britain is muddling along in dealing with Beijing | Editorial

There’s an old joke about a lost traveller asking how to reach their destination. The local they stop helpfully tells them: “If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here.” The foreign secretary made it to Beijing on Wednesday, but finds himself in something of the same situation when it comes to China policy. In a report published the same day, the foreign affairs committee rightly diagnosed a lack of coherence in the UK government’s approach to date. James Cleverly began from an unenviable position. For too long, the west…

Western politicians face tough balancing act on visits to Beijing

The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, on Wednesday described his government’s relationship with Beijing as “complicated and sophisticated”. He said the UK’s approach was “clear-eyed” and pragmatic, neither seeking to isolate the world’s second largest economy nor shying away from raising disagreements. The balancing act may prove difficult. Cleverly is the latest in a series of western government officials – from the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, to the French president, Emmanuel Macron – to have visited China in recent months hoping to repair soured relations and trade ties.…

The London art student whose Chinese political slogan mural caused a storm

When Wang Hanzheng, a Chinese student at the Royal College of Art, attended a graduate show in a warehouse on Brick Lane in east London in July, he found the space crowded, unimaginative and unfit for presenting art. It was with this in mind that at 11pm one night earlier this month Wang and a team of 22 others painted a Chinese political slogan in bold red characters along a nearby wall stretching nearly 100 metres. The artwork – which spelled out the Chinese government’s “socialist core values”, including the…

UK should take China to task on human rights and Taiwan, MPs say

Britain must take a tougher stance on China over its severe human rights abuses and help Taiwan build its defences to deter a potential attack from Beijing, an influential group of MPs says. With the foreign secretary, James Cleverly, scheduled to land in China on Wednesday for a first official visit in five years, a report from the foreign affairs select committee says ministers have to call out the country’s transnational repression. China’s behaviour is a threat to world security that cannot be ignored, it says. The Chinese Communist party…

UK foreign secretary to challenge China over support for Russia in Ukraine war

The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, will challenge Chinese officials in Beijing on Wednesday over their growing military support for Russia, but is intent that his meetings are seen as the renewal of a political dialogue that eventually revives UK trade with China. Before the meetings, he said no major international issue could be solved without China but added that the country had to live up to its international commitments and obligations. No significant global problem – from climate change to pandemic prevention, from economic instability to nuclear proliferation –…