UK PM Boris Johnson warns against 'unthinking Sinophobia' amid tensions with China

WION Web Team
London, United Kingdom Published: Jan 14, 2021, 07.45 AM(IST)

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attending a Parliamentary Liaison Committee hearing at the House of Commons in London Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Britain has angered China by denouncing the implementation of controversial security law in its former colony of Hong Kong, which has been used against pro-democracy activists

Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday the UK should avoid falling into an "unthinking Sinophobia" amid tensions with China over human rights abuses and access to Britain's 5G market.

"We've got to be very vigilant about what's happening with our critical national infrastructure and about the protection of our data and our cyberspace," Johnson said.

"But I don't want this country or this government to lurch into a position of sort of unthinking Sinophobia."

It comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced Britain will introduce new rules for companies to try to prevent goods linked to China's Xinjiang region entering the supply chain, toughening London's response to allegations of forced labour.

Also read: Uighur situation: US, UK and Germany corner China at UNSC

Britain has angered China by denouncing the implementation of controversial security law in its former colony of Hong Kong, which has been used against pro-democracy activists.

It has offered Hong Kongers a route to citizenship, by relaxing entry requirements for those with British National (Overseas) passports.

Also read: UK says 'deeply concerned' after Hong Kong's Jimmy Lai charged

It has also blocked the involvement of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in Britain's 5G network, bowing to US pressure, which assesses the firm as a security risk.

And on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned what he said was the "barbarism" of China's treatment of its Uighur minority in northwest Xinjiang province.

Britain has now introduced import controls on firms who may have directly or inadvertently sourced goods from the province using forced Uighur labour.

That prompted an angry response from Beijing, which warned Britain to stop meddling in its internal affairs.

But Johnson told lawmakers that despite having to be vigilant, particularly about threats to critical national infrastructure and data from cyberspace, bilateral ties could be maintained. 

Last year, Johnson banned Chinese tech giant Huawei from having a role in building Britain's next-generation mobile phone networks over security concerns triggered by US sanctions.

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