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British PM warns against ‘new Cold War’

Boris Johnson

LONDON. — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday warned that Britain must not get drawn into a “new Cold War” with China as he set out his vision for a post-Brexit foreign policy.

“Those who call for a new Cold War on China or for us to sequester our economy entirely from China … are, I think, mistaken,” Johnson told lawmakers at the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament.

Britain would have to “work with China where that is consistent with our values and interests,” said Johnson, adding this includes building “a stronger and positive economic relationship” and cooperation on climate change issues. Johnson made the remarks as the government published a major defence, security and foreign policy review earlier Tuesday.

According to the document published on the government website, the policy review entitled Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, reveals “the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade and the action we will take to 2025.”

Johnson has described the document, which runs more than 100 pages, as the biggest review since the Cold War. According to the document, Britain needs to pursue a positive economic relationship with China, including “deeper trade links and more Chinese investment.”

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Professor Anthony Glees from the University of Buckingham, told Xinhua that the review shows plainly that China and Chinese investment play a key part in the ambitions of a “Global Britain.”

“In his brief statement to Parliament today, Johnson made it crystal clear that there is to be no break with China,” Glees said. 

“There was no suggestion in his remarks that he would give in to his own party’s critics who seek a more adversarial policy.”

Meanwhile, the document also includes an emphasis on openness as a source of prosperity, a more robust position on security and resilience, and an increased determination to seek multilateral solutions to challenges like climate change.

“Whilst the review is billed as being about ‘Global Britain,’ it’s not clear that ‘Global Britain’ is that much different from Britain the way it is,” Glees said.

“In particular, it’s one thing to say we do all these things but another to work out how to improve relations with the EU, Germany and France in particular, given all that has gone on since 2016 (after Brexit referendum),” he said.

“The review says on security we will work closely with partners, but at present we have no security treaty with the EU and the review skips over this issue,” said Glees, adding “it takes two to tango.”

Glees said it is not surprising that the review proposed levelling up and going all out for growth to nurture a strong British economy that benefits its citizens and is more competitive internationally.

“But given the current Brexit-deal-induced mess that has meant our exports to the EU are down by 41 percent at the moment, it’s not clear where the cash is coming from,” the professor said.

“We’re told there is no money to reward nurses and carers for their efforts during the Covid-19 crisis, so how can we afford the expense of this review? Not answered,” he added. — Xinhua.

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HERALD