Former UK Prime Minister urges her successor, Rishi Sunak, to act on his previous statements labelling China as a significant long-term threat to Britain.
Former Prime Minister Liz Truss has used her Taiwan visit to challenge her successor, Rishi Sunak, to recognise China as a “threat” to UK security, potentially transforming Britain’s foreign policy stance.
Truss, during her speech in Taipei City, echoed Sunak’s words from last summer’s Conservative Party leadership contest, calling for urgent action to materialise these policies.
“Last summer, the now British Prime Minister described China as ‘the biggest long-term threat to Britain’. He was right, and we need to see those policies enacted urgently,” Truss stated.
She further insisted that Beijing’s Confucius Institutes, organisations promoting Chinese culture within UK educational institutions, should be closed immediately.
Truss’s tenure as Prime Minister, lasting only 44 days, was marked by her intent to shift the UK Government towards a more hawkish stance on Beijing.
Despite her short stint, her influence seems to endure as she continues to advocate for recognising China under Communist Party rule as a national security threat.
Her successor, Sunak, has not followed this same aggressive line, labelling China an “epoch-defining and systemic challenge” in the UK’s integrated review on foreign and defence policy updated in March.
Truss is expected to utilise her visit to Taiwan – the first by a former British prime minister since Margaret Thatcher’s trip in the 1990s – to persuade the West to refrain from collaborating with China.
She warns that totalitarian regimes “don’t tell the truth”, undermining global issues such as climate change and world health.
Drawing parallels between the tensions in China-Taiwan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Truss champions Taiwan as an “enduring rebuke to totalitarianism”.
However, her visit might provoke a backlash from China, similar to the reaction following Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit last year.
Despite potential retaliation, Truss emphasises the need for Western allies to stand against Chinese aggression, citing Beijing’s expanding military might as a clear indication of this threat.
A UK Government spokesman acknowledged China as the largest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security, but stressed the need for continued engagement, particularly on global issues such as climate change, health, and economic stability.