British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday that the so-called “golden era” of relations with China was over, saying Beijing’s systemic challenge to Britain’s interests and values was growing more acute.
In his first major foreign policy speech, Sunak said Britain’s approach to China needed to evolve and Beijing was “consciously competing for global influence using all the levers of state power”.
“Let’s be clear, the so-called ‘golden era’ is over, along with the naive idea that trade would lead to social and political reform,” Sunak said in London’s financial district, a reference to former finance minister George Osborne’s description of Sino-British ties in 2015.
Some in Sunak’s Conservative Party have been critical of Sunak, regarding him as less hawkish on China than his predecessor Liz Truss. Last year when he was finance minister, he called for a nuanced strategy on China to balance human rights concerns while expanding economic ties.