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UK will continue engaging with China ‘where it furthers our interests’ – Cameron

By Sophie Wingate, PA Political Correspondent

December 5, 2023

Lord David Cameron vowed the UK will continue engagement with China after speaking to his counterpart in Beijing on Tuesday.

The Foreign Secretary said he and Wang Yi had spoken about their aim for “constructive” UK-Sino relations.

As prime minister, he presided over the so-called “golden era” of relations between Britain and China, forging close economic ties with the Asian superpower and hosting a state visit for President Xi Jinping.

Relations between the West and China have deteriorated dramatically in the years since he left office in 2016.

Lord Cameron tweeted: “I spoke to China’s foreign minister Wang Yi today.

“We discussed our intention to have a constructive relationship, the situation in Israel and Gaza, and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“The UK will continue to engage with China where it furthers our interests.”

China’s position on the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine have threatened to widen the diplomatic gulf with the West, as it has refrained from condemning Hamas and remained ambivalent about Russia’s invasion.

Lord Cameron is not expected to be grilled on China when he faces his first question session with peers on Tuesday afternoon, because none were drawn in a ballot deciding questions to ministers in the Lords.

Rishi Sunak has insisted Lord Cameron’s shock political comeback will not mean the return of his golden era approach to Beijing.

In his first foreign policy speech as Prime Minister, Mr Sunak described the pursuit of closer economic ties over the previous decade as “naive”.

Some Tory MPs have pushed Mr Sunak to go further and brand China a “threat”, amid concerns about recent attempts to reduce tensions.

Last month, Lord Cameron acknowledged that the Asian power had become “much more aggressive, much more assertive” since he left No 10, while defending the foreign policy of his period in office.

Lord Cameron, who resigned as prime minister after losing the 2016 Brexit referendum, insisted that engaging with China – a “fifth of humanity” – today was necessary to solve challenges such as climate change.


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