Rishi and Liz in war over China: Sir Iain Duncan Smith ‘surprised’ at claiming to be tough on Beijing

Rishi Sunak’s hard-line stance on China was questioned by his Tory leadership rival last night.

When the former chancellor declared Beijing the “Britain’s biggest long-term threat”, allies of Liz Truss accused Mr Sunak of being “soft on China” and seeking closer trade ties.

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, one of five UK MPs sanctioned by China for speaking out on human rights abuses, said it was “surprising” that Mr Sunak claimed he was cracking down on Beijing.

Ahead of tonight’s first live televised debate of the contenders for the leadership, Sir Iain – who supports Miss Truss – said: “For the past two years, the Treasury has been pushing hard for an economic deal with China.

“This comes despite China sanctioning me and four British MPs, despite brutal crackdowns on peaceful pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, threatening Taiwan, illegally occupying the South China Sea, committing genocide against the Uyghurs and increasing its influence over our universities.

“After such a litany, I have a simple question for Mr. Sunak: where have you been for the past two years?”

Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss traded slaps over each other's stance on China

Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss traded slaps over each other’s stance on China

The former Chancellor has been criticized for pushing for closer trade with China despite the nation cracking down on peaceful protests in Hong Kong (pictured).

The former Chancellor has been criticized for pushing for closer trade with China despite the nation cracking down on peaceful protests in Hong Kong (pictured).

Earlier this month, China’s state-controlled Global Times suggested Mr Sunak was Beijing’s preferred leader candidate. While “most of the candidates take a tough stance on China, only one of them [Sunak] has a clear and pragmatic view of the development of Britain-China relations,” the communist mouthpiece said.

For other developments:

  • An alleged victim of former Tory whip Chris Pincher told the Daily Mail that Boris Johnson should not have been ousted over his activities;
  • Mr Sunak faced questions about the legality of plans to house asylum seekers on ‘prison ships’ and cap the number of refugees Britain takes in each year;
  • Miss Truss promised to take action before the European Court of Human Rights over his interference in the UK’s immigration system.
  • The number of Tory members backing a petition to put Mr Johnson on the leadership ballot rose to over 9,000;
  • Mr Sunak said there was “absolutely nothing racist” about wanting stronger borders, as a senior Labor MP suggested the migrant program in Rwanda was only backed by “rabid, bigoted people”;
  • Miss Truss promised to introduce ‘full fat free ports’ to cash in on Brexit;
  • The Irish government said Rwanda’s migration program is causing asylum seekers to go to Dublin instead.
The foreign minister has taken a tough stance on China in the past,

The foreign minister has taken a tough stance on China in the past, “almost single-handedly” dragging the government into a tougher position, according to a source on her team

A source in Team Truss said that Mr. Sunak was playing catch-up on the China issue. Another said it was “remarkable” that the former banker thought he had reasons to attack about it. “Liz has almost single-handedly dragged the government into a tougher position on China,” the source said.

Mr Sunak accused his rival of allowing Beijing to extend its propaganda machine to British universities via its Confucius Institutes, which he promised to shut down.

Critics say the Chinese government-funded cultural centers are strangling free speech on campus and spying on foreign students. Nine such institutes were opened during Miss Truss’s two-year tenure as education minister, Sunak camp sources said.

Neither camp was willing to comment last night on the mounting evidence that Covid may have leaked from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan. But a source close to the foreign minister said: “She doesn’t think the Chinese have been open about how the outbreak started.”

Miss Truss and Mr Sunak will face off on BBC One tonight in the first live TV debate since MPs reduced the candidates to two. Both sides view the debate as critical, with Mr Sunak’s team believing it could be their best chance to try and close Miss Truss’ lead in the opinion poll of Tory members who will decide the contest.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, sanctioned by China, says Rishi Sunak has been quiet on China for the past two years

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, sanctioned by China, says Rishi Sunak has been quiet on China for the past two years

Miss Truss is expected to use the televised debate to chide Mr Sunak for lacking the experience needed to champion Britain’s interests on the world stage.

In a pre-emptive strike, the former chancellor issued a tough manifesto on China last night – and continued the attack on his competitor’s balance sheet.

Mr Sunak said he would order MI5 to help British firms protect themselves from Beijing’s espionage and seek to ban Chinese firms from buying British firms operating in sensitive sectors.

And he said he will work with US President Joe Biden and other international allies to counter Chinese threats to democracy around the world.

“China is the greatest long-term threat to Britain and to the world’s economic and national security,” he said. ‘Enough is enough. For too long politicians in Britain and across the West have rolled out the red carpet and ignored China’s nefarious activities and ambitions.’

Beijing has shown its preference for Sunak

Beijing has shown its preference for Sunak

When the Sunak camp tried to stop Miss Truss’s “attempts to appear hawkish,” the Secretary of State’s allies hit back last night, pointing out that she had played a leading role in mobilizing Western opinion to take a tougher stance on Beijing’s imperial ambitions .

Neither camp was willing to comment last night on the mounting evidence that Covid may have leaked from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

But a source close to the foreign minister said: “She doesn’t think the Chinese have been open about how the outbreak started.”

The pair will face off tomorrow on BBC One in the first live TV debate since MPs reduced the candidates to two.

Both sides view the 9pm debate as critical, with Mr Sunak’s team believing it could be their best chance to try and close Miss Truss’ lead in the opinion poll of Tory members hosting the competition will decide.

It is expected that Miss Truss will use the debate to accuse Mr Sunak of lacking the experience needed to advocate for Britain’s interests on the world stage.

But in a pre-emptive strike, the former chancellor issued a tough manifesto on China last night – and continued the attack on his competitor’s balance sheet.

Mr Sunak said he would order MI5 to help British firms protect themselves from Beijing’s espionage and seek to ban Chinese firms from buying British firms operating in sensitive sectors.

And he said he will work with US President Joe Biden and other international allies to counter Chinese threats to democracy around the world.

“China is the greatest long-term threat to Britain and to the world’s economic and national security,” he said.

Rishi Sunak said China is the greatest long-term threat to

Rishi Sunak said China is the greatest long-term threat to “the world’s economic and national security”.

“At home, they steal our technology and infiltrate our universities. And abroad, they are backing Putin’s fascist invasion of Ukraine by buying his oil and trying to bully their neighbors, including Taiwan.

“They burden developing countries with insurmountable debts and use them to confiscate their assets or put a diplomatic weapon to their heads. They torture, detain and indoctrinate their own people, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, in violation of their human rights. And they have continually manipulated the world economy in their favor by suppressing their currency.

‘Enough is enough. For too long politicians in Britain and across the West have rolled out the red carpet and ignored China’s nefarious activities and ambitions.’

Last month she called on the West to arm Taiwan to stop Chinese Premier Xi Jinping from following Vladimir Putin’s lead and invading a sovereign neighbor.

Today’s TV debate is expected to focus on the economic differences between the two candidates for the post of next prime minister.

Miss Truss has attacked the former Chancellor over a tax hike approach that has “stalled growth”. She promises more than £30billion in tax cuts, including reversing Mr Sunak’s controversial Social Security increase.

Mr Sunak has accused Miss Truss of pursuing a “fairy tale” economy by promising unfunded tax cuts which he claims will push up both inflation and interest rates.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11044367/Rishi-Sunak-attacks-Liz-Truss-Beijing-camp-hits-accusing-soft-China.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Rishi and Liz in war over China: Sir Iain Duncan Smith ‘surprised’ at claiming to be tough on Beijing

Emma Colton

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