Secretary of State James Cleverly also cautioned about Taiwan and Xinjiang but said countries must work with China to tackle the world’s most pressing problems.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has urged China to be more transparent about what he described as “the largest military build-up in peacetime history”, warning that secrecy about its military activities risks “tragic miscalculation”.
He cleverly devoted his entire inaugural address at the Mansion House banquet in London to China, drawing his views on a relationship long left behind by the so-called “golden age” under former prime minister David Cameron.
He astutely pointed out that between 2014 and 2018, China had launched new warships that exceeded the total tonnage of Britain’s Royal Navy’s active fleet, and that it was establishing military bases in the South China Sea and beyond.
He urged China to be more open about “the doctrine and intent behind its military expansion.”
“Transparency is certainly in everyone’s interest and secrecy can only increase the risk of tragic miscalculation,” he said.
He also warned of the potential “catastrophic” effects of any conflict on Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its dispute.
No country can protect itself from the fallout. Distance will provide no protection from this catastrophic blow to the global economy – least of all to protect China. I shudder to think of the human and financial devastation that will follow.
“It is imperative that neither side takes unilateral actions to change the status quo.”
China has not ruled out the use of force to secure unification and this month conducted a series of war games after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at a stopover in the United States.
Beijing views Tsai, who was first elected in 2016, as a “separatist” who wants “independence”. It says that the people of Taiwan should decide their own future.
She also wittily expressed her “disgust” at China’s treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, where the United Nations said last year that Beijing may have committed crimes against humanity.
We won’t let what [ha]He said without going into details.
The letter also touched on China’s response to Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, wittily reminding Beijing — one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council — of the laws and obligations it entered into when it joined the United Nations.
“Peaceful coexistence must begin with respect for basic laws and institutions, including the United Nations Charter, which protects every country from invasion,” he said.
The speech also included recognition of the “depth and complexity” of China’s history and civilization as well as the country’s success in lifting 800 million people out of poverty over the past 45 years.
He shrewdly stressed that there could be no new Cold War and that countries should work with China to make progress on some of the biggest challenges facing the world.
He added that the UK would double funding for the government’s “China capacity” and plan to build a new British embassy in Beijing with China’s approval.
“We don’t live in a dystopian zero-sum world: their gain is our gain,” he said. “We must face the inescapable fact that no major global problem — from climate change to pandemic prevention, from economic instability to nuclear proliferation — can be solved without China.”
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