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A new document by the body found that the UK’s China policy has been “superficial”. Alexander Downer, chairman of UK think tank Policy Exchange and former foreign affairs minister in Australia, wrote in the foreword of the paper that Britain’s “policy was never sufficient. It was superficial and unlikely to be sustainable.”
He added: “A policy towards a rising China which offered nothing more than pecuniary ambition was never going to impress British allies.
“Worse, it indicated that the UK was no longer a global geopolitical player, just a trading nation.”
The authors of the document called on the UK Government to impose harsher sanctions on countries that commit human rights violations.
The group urged the UK to bear in mind its “strength in the world is its network of friends and allies” who it should be working with to counter China’s increasing power.
Tom Tugendhat MP, and chair of China Research Group, urged democracies to reconsider their stance on China-related issues.
He said: “Like-minded democracies need to rethink their approach to China.”
“We should seek to hold China to its international obligations – and that includes preparing a package of measures which could be enacted in response to continued Chinese Communist Party (CCP) violations of human rights and international law.”
The authors also urge the UK Government to mirror the US’ 2012 Magnitsky Act, a bill passed by the US Congress which entitled the US government to impose sanctions against those considered human rights offenders.
Other suggestions in the report included the imposition of a ban of any UK exports to China that could enable mass surveillance or human rights offences.
The body also called for more control over UK purchases of Chinese tech products “to reduce the [Chinese Communist Party’s] ability to infiltrate UK agencies.”
But a tougher approach toward China could spark retaliatory efforts from Beijing as Australia has recently seen.
On Monday, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, denounced a propaganda image shared by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on social media.
The edited photograph reportedly showed an Australian special forces soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child as he stood on an Australian flag.
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The inscription “don’t be afraid we are coming to bring you peace,” was plastered over the image.
Mr Morrison demanded an apology from Beijing for what he labelled a “truly offensive” and “repugnant” image.
The Australian Prime Minister said of the tweet: “The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post.
“It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.
“It is an absolutely outrageous and disgusting slur.
“Australia is seeking an apology from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are seeking it be removed from Twitter.”
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry wrote in the initial tweet containing the gruesome image: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers.
“We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.”
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