China warning: UK urged to cut ties with Beijing – ‘Time to wake up!’

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The Hong Kong Watch advocacy group said Western governments such as the UK’s should direct foreign capital away from China, where such money could be complicit in human rights abuses, and pass laws to allow for economic sanctions against Beijing. The report said China had achieved its political ambitions Hong Kong thanks to a steady rise in investment over the past two decades.

Hong Kong is a canary in a coalmine

Johnny Patterson

Hong Kong Watch policy director Johnny Patterson said: “The massive influx of red capital explains why Beijing failed to pass national security legislation in 2003 but succeeded in 2020.

“State capitalism dictates that the Communist Party’s interests are the first priority for every business.”

Mr Patterson continued: “It is time to wake up. We need to be looking at where Western institutional investment is going and where China is targeting its investments.

“Hong Kong is a canary in a coalmine.

“If we allow another ten years of Beijing’s strategic investment of red capital across Africa and Europe, Latin America and Asia to take place unchallenged, we should not be surprised if – when inevitably there are geopolitical flashpoints – we see a rerun of Beijing domination of Hong Kong in other strategic geo-political battlegrounds or indeed on our own doorstep.”

The Hong Kong Watch report said Governments should make sure their state pension funds were not investing in Chinese companies known to be involved in human rights violations.

And it warned Chinese state-owned enterprises and private firms should both be of concern to Western governments given their “dependency on Beijing.”

The report said: “The Chinese Communist Party continues to control the capital market on the mainland meaning that ‘national champions’ flourish under the beneficent hand of the CC, while outsiders flounder.

“Elites foolish enough to challenge the status quo are liable to find themselves in court facing corruption charges.”

The report said private firms have to stick to the Communist Party’s line if they want to succeed in China and are responsible for furthering state objectives.

Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, which the Britain, the US and other nations have banned from future mobile network infrastructure over security concerns, was highlighted as an example.

The report also pointed to Beijing’s dominance over Chinese companies operating in Hong Kong.

It said people who worked for Chinese firms in Hong Kong were banned from joining the pro-democracy protests of 2019.

It also found 35 percent of Hong Kong media outlets had a major mainland Chinese stake which allowed Beijing to “shape the media environment through censorship and editorial control”.

Chinese firms were banned from placing ads in Hong Kong media outlets that carried coverage deemed unfavourable by Beijing – a move that squeezed a business lifeline for news organisations.

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Relations between Britain and China have soured in recent years over Hong Kong, Huawei and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang province.

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the China Research Group said: “The relationship has taken a turn for the worse in recent years.

“And there are many areas where we can still see that sadly, it has further to fall.”

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