Tensions have risen over the last few months not least due to China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but also controversy surrounding the state’s links to Huawei – which was planned to play a role in Britain’s 5G networks before Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial ban last Tuesday. Meanwhile, both the UK and the US have criticised Beijing over its introduction of a new security law in Hong Kong, which threatens the democracy of the Special Administrative Region, leading the Government to offer the 350,000 current British National Overseas residents the opportunity to come to the UK, which could rise to three million. But, Chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee, Mr Ellwood, says more must be done to actually penalise China, as he feels the current sanctions are exactly what they would want.
He told Express.co.uk: “The list of countries that China has influence over grows longer and longer every single year.
“These countries are lured into China’s way of thinking and their voices are neutralised on the international stage.
“This means there are far fewer of us to stand up and confront China and its trade capabilities are so enormous that it uses it for its benefit.
“But it’s actually its Achilles’ heel – the difference between Soviet Russia and China today is that China is only as big as it is because of international trade.
Tobias Ellwood has exposed China’s ‘trump card’
Controversy around China has risen following the pandemic
“So if you add up the trade capabilities of Europe and the United States together, it out-masses China, so that is where we should be pushing forward to and enforcing what it is we believe in the West.
“There’s been an absence of that, a demise in what we are willing to stand up for, what we want to defend.”
The Bournemouth East MP then pointed out the concerning way that China is developing this power, in what he dubbed a “trump card”.
He added: “The power that it yields over international bodies is its trump card.
“You have the military might and the technological capabilities, and that economic clout I just spoke about.
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Huawei has been banned from the UK’s 5G network
“But the best way to prevent anyone challenging you is to actually neutralise their views in the first place.
“There simply isn’t a collective voice to criticise China and that’s because China actually embeds people in the very organisations that are holding countries to account.
“Unfortunately, while it’s doing that – having a greater influence on international organisations across the piece – it’s also buying out shares of companies as well to benefit itself.
“But also, it’s looking to place its own people, so it’s got high-flyers – Harvard and Oxford graduates – placed in United Nations organisations.”
Mr Ellwood explained why he felt the recent actions by the US and the UK are only allowing China to further utilise this “trump card”.
He added: “There are 15 major agencies in the UN, China now runs four of them, the US runs one of them.
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Boris Johnson has offered help to British Overseas Nationals
Tobias Ellwood has further concerns
“When the US retreats, as they have done from the World Health Organisation, who fills that vacuum? China.
“So we are playing into China’s hands here, and dare I say it with Hong Kong as well.
“Our answer was to give the British National Overseas passport holders a place to go here in the UK, but that means that they are vacating the place that they have been living, where they call home.
“It actually means that we have helped China remove, from their perspective, the undesirable characters. They will happily pass them across to the UK.”
Finally, Mr Ellwood warned that if action is not taken to stand up to China, he fears Beijing will only mirror this aggression in other areas of concern.
He added: “Then we have given up on democracy in Hong Kong.
Mr Ellwood raised concerns over Xi Jinping
Dominic Raab will speak in Commons today
“The situation in Hong Kong is just an acute illustration of the liberated aggressive approach that China is now illustrating.
“I think the real change in China came during COVID-19 when the veil was removed and it revealed that this impression that China was going to be part of the international western architecture, when actually – all the time – it has been pursuing a very different agenda.
“President Xi has got the job for life and because that facade has dropped it doesn’t care what the rest of the world thinks about it anymore.
“So they can charge into Hong Kong and change the rules knowing that the West is too weak, too diversified to stand up to it.
“I’m afraid that the next step of advance is in the South China Sea – which they are now dominating – and the one after that will be Taiwan.”
This morning it was reported that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to also suspend the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong amid the rising tensions.
The arrangement has been in place for more than 30 years and means that, if someone in Hong Kong is suspected of a crime in the UK, then the British authorities can ask Hong Kong to hand them over to face justice – and vice versa.
Hong Kong has extradition agreements with 19 other countries apart from the UK, including Canada and Australia, which have already suspended theirs.
Mr Raab is due to make a statement to Parliament later.