British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday the UK should avoid slipping into “thoughtless sinophobia” amid tensions with China over human rights violations and access to the UK 5G market.
“We need to be very vigilant about what’s going on with our critical national infrastructure and protecting our data and our cyberspace,” Johnson said.
“But I don’t want this country or this government to sink into a position of thoughtless sinophobia.”
It comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced that Britain would introduce new rules for businesses to prevent goods linked to China’s Xinjiang region from entering the supply chain, thus strengthening London’s response to allegations of forced labor.
Read also: Situation of the Uyghurs: the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany monopolize China at the UNSC
Britain angered China by denouncing the implementation of a controversial security law in its former colony of Hong Kong, which has been used against pro-democracy activists.
It has offered Hong Kongers a path to citizenship, easing entry requirements for those with UK national passports (overseas).
Also Read: UK Says ‘Deeply Concerned’ After Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai Charges
He also blocked the involvement of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in Britain’s 5G network, giving in to US pressure, which rates the company as a security risk.
And on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab condemned what he called “barbarism” of China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority in the northwestern province of Xinjiang.
Britain has now introduced import controls on companies that may have directly or inadvertently purchased products from the province using forced Uyghur labor.
This sparked an angry reaction from Beijing, which warned Britain to stop meddling in its internal affairs.
But Johnson told lawmakers that despite the need to be vigilant, especially regarding threats to critical national infrastructure and cyberspace data, bilateral ties could be maintained.
Last year, Johnson banned Chinese tech giant Huawei from playing a role in building next-generation mobile phone networks in Britain due to security concerns triggered by US sanctions.
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