Understanding China's Rise in a Globalising World, 2023: Foreign Policy Memos

This page features some of the best student foreign policy memos about UK-China relations written in Spring 2023.

 

The University of Manchester is committed to academic independence and the freedom of speech. Student views are entirely their own, and do not represent those of the University of Manchester, MCI, or UCIL.

UK foreign policy memos

Addressed to UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. 

Adam Sharpe: Chinese Involvement in Infrastructure Projects

Adam Sharpe

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Adam Sharpe

DATE: 16 March 2023

RE: Chinese Involvement in Infrastructure Projects

Executive Summary

Relations with China and attitudes towards Chinese investment ought to be reconsidered in an effort to further British progress with large infrastructure projects.

This includes transport projects such as the HS2 and more sensitive areas, namely the UK’s 5G network and nuclear power sector which could be aided by Chinese investment and technology.

Background

Numerous infrastructure ventures have faced delays or cost related issues which has meant the UK fell behind other nations in staying up to date with technological advancements. Chinese investment has been inconsistent with Brexit uncertainty and Covid induced economic slowdowns. However, interest existed before as over £105bn was allocated in 2014 for UK recipients in energy, property and transport (Plimmer, 2014). The Chinese sovereign wealth fund sought beneficiaries for investment which the UK could offer with projects such as the HS2 and cellular networks improvements.

The UK is yet to make use of the Chinese BRI scheme, which funds infrastructure, due to insecurity in UK-China relations but the BRI has been effective and has led to projects completed sooner and cheaper (Korablin, 2019). Exploring alternative financing options of works on this scale could benefit the UK.

The present policy is Chinese investment is welcome, except in industries deemed as strategic which encompasses nuclear power and the 5G network. New policy should alter this position and make decisions in the best interests of the British public (Parker and Thomas, 2021).

Policy Options

Open up to Chinese investment in all sectors:

UK infrastructure could benefit from Chinese investment in areas currently restricting investment, notably 5G and the nuclear industry. The existing 5G system which relies on Huawei technology is set to be stripped of this equipment by 2027 (MoD, 2021) and this would not be an effective decision if the aim is to improve telecommunications throughout the UK.

Decisions should reflect governmental aspirations instead of copying sanctions imposed by the US, thus reversal of this policy to have an effective 5G network sooner should take precedence. Furthermore the removal of Chinese firms from all nuclear power projects could be reversed, this policy was only implemented over fears of military applications to nuclear technology.

However, if Chinese ownership was capped to around 10% or involvement was solely tied to investment, then this could be a viable revenue source for UK nuclear development. Potential setbacks to opening up to such investment could include straining the US-UK special relationship as the attitudes towards China’s role in infrastructure would be contradictory, but this level of fallout seems unlikely given the deep alliance that exists.

In addition, there have been concerns about national security being hindered by Chinese interference, concerns mainly raised by the US and Australia. Therefore, a UK review into these accusations could be useful to have more information before making conclusions and implementing policy which could have significant impacts on the global scene.

Encourage wider non-sensitive investment:

Chinese interest in investing in UK transport and property markets is already present and could be allowed to take place on a wider scale. This would assist in not only the financial side of these industries but also timescales of project completion, most predominantly of the HS2 railway connecting London to the North. The UK could even go beyond this to set up other new rail infrastructure or port developments as have been prevalent across Europe with Chinese state backing.

There is a risk of cutting off British investment into the UK itself as several industries become more greatly funded by Chinese businesses, however that is the nature of upholding an open economy. Whether this would be interpreted as a negative impact depends on the opinions of the public.

Additionally, dependency on Chinese funding for crucial industries could become an issue as US-China decoupling becomes more common whilst economic self-sufficiency takes centre stage for those countries. This would mean that there is a reliance on the continued success of China’s economy which could be a high-risk strategy considering the current fragile state of global politics.

UK funded Chinese infrastructure building:

An alternative view would be that the management and breadth of these projects is the issue rather than investment itself. Thus by allowing the government to fund the projects, ownership could be maintained while Chinese companies are employed to carry them out.

This would negate any security concerns and if utilising the BRI, the UK could borrow money from China to complete the project and as a developed nation, should not face the issues of debt that countries in Africa and Latin America have experienced (Liu et al, 2020).

A downside would be that by taking full UK ownership, this is a more expensive policy route to choose as a precautionary measure when concerns about security may not be true. Other BRI projects have had issues beyond sinking economies into debt, overall quality of the works have been questioned but whether more qualified oversight would counteract this is unknown (Dube & Steinhauser, 2023).

Policy Recommendation

Allowing investment in all sectors with proper project oversight and limits on Chinese involvement should be the new policy choice for UK-China investment relations. This is preferable to current policy of completely cutting off potential investment in areas deemed sensitive, because these large scale infrastructure projects are direly needed for the UK to stay among the forefront of the global economies.

Through adopting this policy, the nuclear sector could begin to flourish and there would be a greater self-sufficiency of energy, highlighted as an issue with the dependence on gas and non-renewable sources. Additionally, a widespread 5G network would ensure greater capacity and reliability of telecommunications which could allow new digital industries and businesses to grow with a UK hub.

Lastly, Chinese investment to complete the HS2 would limit delays on the already late scheme and finally build the increasingly expensive transport system which has been proposed for over a decade at lower cost. Becoming a destination for Chinese direct investment could greatly help the UK not fall behind other G7 nations in terms of economic growth. It would also aid China as they seek safe destinations for their capital and would find this in the UK, where investment has slowed but confidence is returning.

Sources

Charles Kane: Hong Kong Emigration Cost Assistance Proposals

Charles Kane

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Charles Kane

DATE: 20 March 2023

RE: Hong Kong Emigration Cost Assistance Proposals

Summary

China - UK relations have changed and morphed over the past 20 years. The recent events in Hong Kong have shaped a path for soft powered British intervention, specifically through the creation of simpler migration pathways for Hong Kong nationals, as was attempted in July of 2020.

Since then, only 150,000 have emigrated over (Lee, 2023), out of the possible 5.4 million potential applicants (Wade and Gower, 2021).

Emigrating to the United Kingdom is a very costly process, and this policy recommendation letter will highlight some of the ways in which the British state can assist more Hong Kong nationals financially to emigrate over to the United Kingdom, namely through assistance with: accommodation, travel, and legal costs.

Accommodating much of Hong Kong's population in a fashion like this could put pressure on the government of China to treat the citizens with the legal respect specified in the 1997 Sino-British joint declaration (Brooke-Holland, 2019), developing Sino-British relations in a manner that reflects British ethical expectations. 

Background

In July 2020, the British government, then led by Boris Johnson, announced new safe immigration pathways, allowing select Hong Kong nationals to move and reside in the UK, with a route to eventual citizenship. This policy is significant because it is applicable to so many, and it also demonstrates the United Kingdom's soft power capabilities in the face of China’s authoritarian governance.

However, whilst this policy has potential to significantly impact the CCP and provide safety for Hong Kong's resident’s, it has caveats, particularly regarding finances. The pathway from Hong Kong national to British citizen will cost each person at least £6965 (British National Overseas visa, 2023), disregarding -the already expensive- accommodation and transport.

This is an outrageous sum that ensures freedom only for those who can afford it. A new policy should be introduced, creating a fund for those who need extra financial assistance, thus improving the UK’s tarnished record on compassion for asylum seekers (Rawlinson and Thomas, 2020).

By pressuring the Chinese government into rethinking their treatment of Hong Kong citizens, a new path for Chinese-British relations can be created, one that more closely resembles the golden age of relations experienced between our two nations. In doing so we can mutually aim to prosper economically, socially, and environmentally.

Analysis of policy options 

There are several ways in which the British government can financially aid those living in Hong Kong, this letter will address three of the most effective strategies. As stated, the following bullet points explain interventions regarding accommodation, transport, and legal costs.

One way the British government can assist those Hong Kong nationals seeking a new life in the United Kingdom is through providing short or long term accommodation options for those who need it. One advantage of this policy is that it would tackle the most expensive aspect of emigrating to Britain, as UK house prices have risen considerably over the past decade (Office for National Statistics, 2022). However, in turn, this would also prove to be a very expensive policy, and it would need to succeed alongside the other, already overcrowded, asylum seeker accommodation options.

Additionally, assistance from our state can be given to those making the journey between the UK and HK through helping them with their travel costs, partially or fully. This is important as HK nationals may not have the funds to immediately travel to the UK due to cost, some flights are well in excess of £1000 (British Airways, 2023).

This is especially important for those who need to leave for safety concerns. One issue with such a policy is that an uptick in flights may make it more difficult to facilitate all of those that wish to emigrate, however schemes that assess urgency, can be introduced in order to tackle this issue by creating lists of priority.

One of the easier solutions to confront the costs is to directly lower the legal prices Hong Kong nationals will face, this has actually already been done through the creation of the BNO visa, which is considerably cheaper than other visas (Walsh, 2020). However there are other areas where the costs stack up, namely the “Immigration health surcharge” (£3120), indefinite right to remain (£2389), and the registration as a British citizen (£1206).

One advantage of cutting these costs is the simplicity of the task. It is very easy for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development office to apply changes to these costs, and is probably the most efficient way to assist HK citizens. One disadvantage is that the results from this are not immediate, for instance, unlike subsidised transport costs, a HK citizen would not immediately benefit from having a cheaper application to become a British Citizen.

By utilising any one or all of these policy suggestions, the likelihood for a citizen to make the move to Britain will increase, moreover, those utilising the suggested policies may represent some of the poorer within Hong Kong, and by extension, the most powerless. And so it can be argued that such policies will benefit those who need help the most, ensuring that any Hong Kong national can seek freedom regardless of their financial wellbeing.

These policy options would put pressure on the Chinese government to respect the individual rights of Hong Kong citizens, as a population loss also represents an economic loss, especially in one of the most financially developed regions in the country.

References:

  • British Airways, (2023). British Airways, Travel. [Website displaying ticket prices].
  • Available from: https://www.britishairways.com/travel/fx/public/en_gb# [Accessed 21st March 22]
  • British National (Overseas) visa. (2023). Commonwealth citizens and British nationals (overseas). [Online]
  • Available from: https://www.gov.uk/british-national-overseas-bno-visa/how-much-it-costs [Accessed 21st March 22]
  • Lee, P. (2023). Over 144,000 Hongkongers move to UK in 2 years since launch of BNO visa scheme. Hong Kong Free Press. 1st February. Online
  • Office for National Statistics. (2022). Home Economy Inflation and price indices UK House Price Index, London. His Majesty's Land Registry.
  • Rawlinson, K. Thomas, T. (2020). UK government accused of lacking compassion for asylum seekers. The Guardian. 2nd September. Online
  • Wade, E. Glower, M. (2021). Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa. [Online]
  • Walsh, P. (2020).Q&A: The new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa. [Online]
  • Available from: https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/commentaries/qa-the-new-ro ute-to-citizenship-for-some-hong-kong-residents/ [Accessed 20th March 23]

Conor Glynn: Muslims in Xinjiang

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Conor Glynn

DATE: 19 March 2023

RE: Muslims in Xinjiang

Summary

I propose a boycott of products containing cotton from the Xinjiang region and significant trade restrictions on Chinese industries utilising products from Xinjiang and a public awareness scheme of the atrocities occurring.

Background

Human rights violations are ongoing in Xinjiang, China, with over 1 million Uyghur Muslims detained since 2017 (House of Commons, 2021), subjected to forced labour and re-education camps to erase Uyghur culture.

There’s an estimated over 380 of these camps (Council on Foreign Relations, 2022) despite claims from the CCP that they had been shut down in 2019. The UN describes this situation as constituting “crimes against humanity” (United Nations, 2022).

This represents a serious issue for the UK. With the UK’s global outreach, condemnation is needed. The cotton industry is a huge issue as the Xinjiang region is currently responsible for over 85% of Chinese cotton output (Li, 2021), amid evidence of forced labour by Uyghurs.

Current UK policy isn’t enough to force change. There’s been a review of export controls to Xinjiang and guidance for UK businesses setting up links to Xinjiang (Bunkall, 2021), coupled with asset freezes for 4 Chinese government officials (Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, 2021).

This isn’t enough without economic threat. Following refusal from the UK government to ban imports of Xinjiang cotton (AP News, 2023), we aren’t taking a strong enough stance.

Policy options

I propose several policies to address the Xinjiang problem:

  1. The UK and Chinese governments must engage in consistent dialogue, raising concerns about Xinjiang. Moreover, the UK must place pressure by supporting for Chinese human rights activists to force the CCP’s hand. This policy won’t directly cost the UK and could lead to greater cooperation between the 2 countries over future issues.

However, this policy could compromise future deals and discussions. Credible threats need to be made to China which could place future discussions in jeopardy. Dialogue alone simply isn’t enough:

  1. Multinational corporations play a huge role in the sustained growth of the Chinese economy, with MNCs previously responsible for over half of Chinese exports (Woetzel et al., no date). At least 83 multinational companies (Yang and Shepherd, 2020) are current beneficiaries of forced Uyghur labour. The UK government must place pressure on companies, particularly British MNCs, to withdraw from the Chinese market until aforementioned issues are addressed. It’s unlikely change occurs if threats are made without economic costs to China. Withdrawing huge amounts of investment by MNCs represents a significant threat. Following the Better Cotton Initiative raising awareness of forced Uyghur labour in products, companies such as Nike, Adidas and H&M announced a boycott of Xinjiang cotton (Jin, 2022). This highlights the importance of awareness schemes. The UK government must encourage similar action from British companies benefitting from Xinjiang.

However, complex global supply chains provide difficulty in identifying what companies benefit from Xinjiang. This policy will be costly to the UK government- significant incentives must be provided to withdraw from the Chinese market.

Outsourcing cotton production away from cheap labour in China is difficult to encourage companies to do, nevermind the loss of global supply links this entails.

Support from the UK government has encouraged companies to do this, excluding suppliers linked to human rights violations (Bunkall, 2021). Nevertheless, more can be done:

  1. The UK government could work with allies, placing global economic pressure on China to address Xinjiang. Economic sanctions can be placed, boycotting Xinjiang cotton, limiting cooperation with the government and trade deals conditional on human rights improvements. The US represents China’s largest export partner, with exports worth $45.4 billion (OEC, no date) in 2022 along with huge amounts to the EU. Trade restrictions will cause a huge dent to the Chinese economy, forcing change. This policy encourages dialogue between the UK and its allies, proving beneficial in future.

However, it’s troublesome to find a united consensus on the policies that should be used. Furthermore, whilst the West represents a big market for Chinese trade, large amounts of trade happen in Asia. ASEAN was China’s second largest trading partner in 2022 (Statista, 2023).

Decoupling from the West, leaning more towards the Asian and Russian market, has already begun in China. It’s unlikely that these sanctions may have the desired effect, instead pushing China further towards ASEAN and Russia without change in Xinjiang. This could further fracture the global economy, causing economic downturn in the UK.

Policy Recommendation

Thus, I recommend a boycott of Chinese products containing Xinjiang cotton, coupled with trade restrictions (deals conditional on human rights improvements) and a public awareness scheme. China relies on international trade- it’s the number 1 & 2 exporter and importer in the world respectively (OEC, no date), therefore sanctions based on trade will force change.

Public awareness campaigns implore UK citizens to learn about Xinjiang, encouraging conscious consumption decisions regarding goods from China. Boycotting Xinjiang cotton sends a message to China, reinforcing the UK’s role as a global standard setter of human rights.

A message that the UK won’t stand for human rights violations must be sent for change to occur, which current policy measures aren't doing. Economic deterrent is the best way to do this. Dialogue with the CCP isn’t enough; credible threats must be present. The above policy represents these threats, endorsing change.

This isn’t to say that this policy won’t be costly or induce retaliatory measures from the Chinese government. This will be costly regarding UK trade- China is currently the UK’s fourth largest trading partner (Lawrence and Myers, 2023). The UK relies heavily on China for imports, with a trade deficit of £40.5 billion (The Institute of Export and International trade, 2022).

Arguably, this weakens our standings on human rights issues- we benefit from the Chinese economy, which has grown by these. The UK committing to economic boycotts and sanctions might not be enough. The UK is only China’s 9th biggest trading partner (Workman, no date), thus may not be enough of a deterrent for change.

It’s important the UK is a global standard bearer for human rights. We must be willing to deal with potential consequences of its policies. Whilst it may seem a pointless endeavour to announce trade restrictions due to the size of the UK market, this may lead to similar actions from allies, providing economic threat for China.

The UK can only look introspectively, it cannot act conditional on other countries. We must set the standard. Consequently, the UK must implement the policy discussed above. The UK cannot stand for human rights violations.

Sources:

Coralie Roads: Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Coralie Roads

DATE: 14 March 2023

RE: Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang

Summary

There is increasing evidence that the cotton fields of Xinjiang, China are using forced labour of Ughur Muslims from ‘re-education centres’ (Xu et al, 2020). It is believed to be the largest-scale detention of religious minorities since World War Two (Lehr and Bechrakis, 2019).

To address this problem, the UK government should introduce sanctions and restrictions on companies importing cotton from Xinnjiang or using forced Uyghur labour. This is an opportunity to impose strict inspections on labour conditions in the global supply chain and apply pressure on the Chinese government to put an end to forced labour.

Background

Xinjiang lies in the north-west of China and is home to around 12 million Uyghur Muslims. Uyghurs in this region have faced discrimination at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as their attempt to secure control over the population (Stern, 2021). This oppression has escalated to “crimes against humanity and genocide” since 2014 with reports from NGOs, such as Amnesty Internation, of a mass detainment of Uyghurs in ‘re-education centres’ (Stern, 2021, p1).

An estimated one million Uyghurs have been arbitrarily detained against their will, where they have been subject to various forms of torture, such as forced cultural assimilation and political indoctrination (Amnesty International, 2021). The detainees are unable to leave or communicate with family outside the re-education centres. The Chinese government state that this crackdown in Xinjiang is necessary to prevent terrorism and the re-education centre root out Islamist extremism (BBC, 2022). This re-education has the aim of strengthening loyalty to the Communist party.

There is increasing concern that the Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang ‘re-education centres’ are involved in forced labour. Xinjiang produces around a fifth of the world’s cotton and there are concerns that much of this cotton is picked by forced labour. There is evidence that new cotton factories have been built within the grounds of the re-education centres (BBC, 2022). This is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to eliminate the Ughur culture by re-educating them through a different style of work (Lehr and Bechrakis, 2019).

The situation is Xinjiang involves the use of “compelled labour as part of a concerted effort [from the Chinese government] to eliminate a culture and religion” (Lehr and Bechrakis, 2019, p2). The UK government are morally obligated to enact a new policy to address this issue to uphold human rights standards across the global stage.

Policy options

China has attracted international condemnation for its use of forced labour and ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang in the past decade. In March of 2021, the European Union sanctioned China over the human rights abuses of Uyghurs. This criticism stemmed from western and northern European countries that place liberalism and human rights at the heart of their political agenda. There is evidence to suggest that this frustrated China and therefore, Beijing responded with an escalated set of sanctions against European politicians.

Western European criticism of the Chinese government proved to escalate the situation rather than address the issue. China formed new trade relationships with Eastern European countries, such as the ‘16+1’ mechanism in 2013. This sanction, in the form of direct condemnation of China, did not improve the treatment of Uyghurs but it did increase international awareness of the human rights abuses.

The UK parliament approached this issue in 2022. Rishi Sunak declared that the apparent “Golden-era of UK-China relations is over” (The Times, 2022). Referring to the mistreatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Sunak claimed that as China has moved towards even “greater authoritarianism” under Xi Jinping , it now presents a “systematic challenge” to the UK (BBC, 2022). China’s acts against human rights go against the UK’s liberal stance.

In his bid for No 10 in July 2022, Sunak pledged to a policy to kick the CCP out of UK universities, including closing all Confucius Institutes in the UK in an attempt to intimidate China. However, China have continued to deny all allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

China’s foregin ministry spokesperson told the BBC in 2022 that the documents were an example of ‘anti-China voices’ trying to degrade China. This policy has not enacted change for the Uyghurs but it does send a message to the international community that human rights abuses will not be tolerated.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act of 2022 requires firms importing goods from Xinjiang into the USA to provide evidence that they are not produced using forced labour. This policy addresses the compelled labour that Uyghurs face and attempts to stop companies supporting the industry. However, this policy has not ended the use of forced labour in Xinjiang. Further, many Chinese argue that the USA should not be criticising Chinese slave labour given their history in slavery.

Policy Recommendation

In a democracy, the purpose of politics is to protect individual rights. There is an opportunity for the UK to implement a new policy to approach this issue. The UK government should impose sanctions and restrictions on companies who import cotton from Xinjiang that are found guilty of using Uyghur workers in their factories.

This should include inspections determining how labour is deployed. If the company is found to be using forced labour, the UK government should apply pressure to introduce proper labour practices. Defined by the UN international convention, genocide is the intent to destroy a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group (Kunz, 1949). It is vital that through this process the rights of the Uyghurs are prioritised and their genocide is ceased.

Forced labour in Xinjiang is connected to Western supply chains. According to the International Labour Organisation, forced labour includes work that takes place under threat of a penalty and where the person has not offered their service voluntarily (Hughes, 2005).

The forced coercion of Uyghur Muslims in the global supply chain violates this international law. For example, evidence suggests that Uyghurs work in the factories of global brands such as Nike and Apple (Xu et al, 2020). There is a connection of forced labour in Xinjiang and the UK market, creating both a moral imperative for action and an opportunity to apply pressure on the Chinese government (Lehr and Bechrakis, 2019).

The coerced labour force in Xinjiang produces over 80% of China’s cotton. A report in 2020 revealed that 16% of the UK’s textile imports were from China. The aim of this policy would be for China to stop using forced labour in its markets, protecting Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and preventing these abuses from re-occurring in the future.

Sources:

  • Amnesty International (2021). The nightmare of Uyghur families separated by repression.
  • BBC News (2022). Who are the Uyghurs and why is China being accused of genocide, 24 May, p. 1.
  • Hughes, S. (2005). ‘The international labour organisation’, New Political Economy, 10(3), pp.413-425.
  • Kunz, J.L. (1949). ‘The United Nations Convention on Genocide’, American Journal of International Law, 43(4), pp.738-746.
  • Lehr, A. and Bechrakis, M. (2019). ‘Connecting the dots in Xinjiang: forced labor, forced assimilation, and Western supply chains’, Center for Strategic and International Studies, pp. 1-38.
  • Stern, J. (2021). ‘Genocide in China: Uighur Re-education Camps and International Response’, Immigration and Human Rights Law Review, 3(1), p.2.
  • The Times and The Sunday Times (2022). Rishi Sunak: Golden era of UK-China relations is over [YouTube]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtxJsgS_t1o (Accessed: 14 March 2023).
  • United States Customs and Border Protection. (2022). Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
  • World Bank. (2020). United Kingdom textiles and clothing imports by country 2020. World Integrated Trade Solution.
  • Xu, V.X., Cave, D., Leibold, J., Munro, K., and Ruser, N. (2020). ‘Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang’, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 26, pp. 3-41.

Daniel Woo: The UK-China Trade Imbalance

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Daniel Woo

DATE: 21 March 2023

RE: UK-China Trade Imbalance

Summary

The growing trade imbalance that the UK has with China will deteriorate the UK economy and its footing with China. It contributes to the lack of employment and increases unethical labor use overseas. Accordingly, we recommend that the UK government implement the supply-side policy that focuses on increasing labor skills and productivity to encourage less reliance on China’s goods and economic growth.

Background

As reported in 2021, United Kingdom’s largest trade imbalance is with China resulting in a 39 Billion Pounds deficit, it has been a significant increase of more than double the amount since 2019 which is -14 Billion Pounds and it is steadily increasing (Matty, 2022).
United Kingdom’s increasing reliance on China’s products will put them at a standpoint with no leverage, leading to a loss of influence in major decision-making relating to China.

Additionally, increasing imports from China can incur an ethical cost from labor exploitation, which was evident in the forced labor exploitation of Uyghur workers in Qingdao. There will also be a rise in the unemployment rate in the UK caused by the lack of domestic manufacturing as a result of the increase in imports.

In order to ensure that these alarming consequences from the trade deficit are prevented, there is a range of policies that could be implemented by the government.

Policy options:

  1. Impose trade tariffs on China’s imports.

    Implementing tariffs on China’s goods does lead to a decrease in the trade deficit. In theory, it also allows an increase in the demand for local goods along with the employment rate as the price of imported goods increases opening up more job vacancies in local manufacturing. However, imposing tariffs on China’s goods will damage the China-UK relationship which can lead to a trade war, this can be seen evident during the Trump administration when the president implemented tariffs on China products causing China to retaliate and leading to a massive trade war which increased the prices for American consumers. Tariffs would also limit the products available for consumers in the UK which may result in shortages, this will further increase the prices of goods causing inflation in the long run.
  2. Devaluation policy

    Devaluing British Pounds can reduce the trade imbalance against China as it increases the competitiveness for exports. Foreign countries would want to import goods from the UK as it is now cheaper since the currency has weakened, and imports into the UK would also be more expensive making consumers spend more on domestic businesses. In the past, China has devalued its currency which raised its competitiveness in the global market substantially and dominated global trade. However, devaluation does not always work well as illustrated in 2011 when the Brazillian Real was devalued leading to many problems such as declining commodity prices and corruption. Another downside of devaluing foreign currency includes inflation due to the rise in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the economy driving up the demands of consumers, some local manufacturers would also have to increase their prices as the materials that are imported becomes more expensive. Locals who are traveling or working abroad would also face hardship as there will be a reduction in purchasing power overseas. Energy cost such as gas in the UK is based on the US dollar, so devaluing the Pound will lead to higher energy cost.
  3. Deflationary Policies

    This policy can be implemented by tightening the fiscal or monetary policy of the UK, both methods lead to the same aim of reducing aggregate demands in the UK and reducing inflation. Deflating fiscal policy reduces aggregate demand by lowering government spending or increasing taxes, this reduces consumers’ income in the UK and reduces their demand for foreign goods, increase in taxes will also improve government finances. However, with lower aggregate demand, unemployment increases which leads to the same problem as a trade deficit. Deflating monetary policy reduces aggregate demand by increasing the interest rates which increases the cost of debt and reduces consumer spending. Deflationary policies force the local manufacturer to find alternative ways to lower the cost of production in order to increase demand which makes local goods more competitive, although this method is uncertain as it depends heavily on the situation of the economy.

Policy Recommendation

In order to tackle the rising trade imbalance problem from China, we would recommend the UK government to implement the supply side policy.

The supply-side policy promotes competitive growth for UK exports and less reliance on foreign imports by improving labor productivity and skill in the economy. The measures that the government could take to achieve this include:

  • Providing incentive taxes such as lowering income and corporation tax to encourage new businesses and increase employment.
  • Providing better quality of education and training by increasing government spending on education and training, prioritizing the electronics sector.
  • Increasing government investment in transport, which helps improve UK exports.

The effects of this method will take a longer time, but although the UK-China trade deficit is growing, it is not too severe to the point where it requires immediate action. Electronics are the main imports from China in the UK worth $28.86 Billion in 2022 (tradingeconomics.com, 2023), allocating government spending to focus on this sector will allow an increase in the production of electronic goods in the UK decreasing the reliance on China.

With high tensions currently affecting China and the West with the intent of decoupling, the supply-side policy is a more peaceful approach rather than implementing tariffs which increase tensions. This policy would also promote economic growth and would not cause consumer setbacks like devaluing and deflationary policies do, although it might widen income inequality due to sector prioritization.

Sources:

Edward Gum: Addressing the UK-China Trade Imbalance

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Edward Gum

DATE: 21 March 2023

RE: Addressing the UK-China Trade Imbalance

Summary

This foreign policy memo analyses the UK-China trade imbalance whilst discussing policy options, such as tax credits and tariffs. The recommended policy is infrastructure improvement to increase the UK’s economic potential by promoting domestic production, international trade, import diversification and reduced dependency on Chinese imports.

Background

Trade imbalances occur when imports exceed exports; this has long been exhibited in UK-China trade. In 2021, China was the UK’s largest import partner and sixth largest export partner for goods, contributing 13.3% and 5.8% respectively (Donnarumma, 2022). In 2021, the trade deficit with China increased threefold due to reduced exports (34%) and increased imports (38%) throughout the Covid-19 pandemic characterised by ‘lockdown spending sprees’ thus increasing demand for Chinese goods.

The year ended with a deficit of £39.1 billion (Barns-Graham, 2022) and stood at £40.1 billion in 2022 (Lawrence and Myers, 2023). 2022 exhibited the worst UK current account deficit figure since the data was first published, 8.3% of GDP (ONS, 2022), suggesting new policies are needed. Since China contributes substantially to UK trade, a policy to address the UK-China trade imbalance seems appropriate.

Whilst not ‘inherently entirely good or bad’ (Hayes, 2022), sizable and persistent trade imbalances negatively impact a country by signally economic instability, deterring investment and limiting growth. This economic environment may reduce labour demand, increase unemployment and exacerbate the deterioration in living standards amid the cost of living crisis (Hourston, 2022).

Further concerns relate to Brexit and the subsequent deterioration in relations with the European market contributing to worry that the UK is “becoming heavily dependent on China” (Barns-Graham, 2022). Concerns are, therefore, growing contributing to uncertainty over the effectiveness of current policies.

Policy options

Policy 1 involves promoting UK exports through tax credits allowing the tapping in of ‘unrealised growth’ (Barnett, 2022). The European Commission (2010) find that European SMEs that trade internationally grow more than twice as fast as those which do not suggesting export promotion can stimulate the economy. Exporting firms benefit from economies of scale, productivity improvements and innovation allowing ‘new and improved products or services’ (Department for BIS, 2011).

Harris and Li (2007) find a ‘34% long-run increase in TFP in the year of entry’ suggesting this policy improves efficiency and economic growth. However, with substantial public sector net debt, 98.9% of GDP in 2023 (ONS, 2023), a policy reducing government revenue may be irresponsible suggesting alternative policies may be preferable. Conversely, since this policy promotes long-term growth through accessing international markets, the revenue loss may be justifiable.

However, many businesses may fail to possess the skill-sets and knowledge required for international trade, e.g. digital literacy and access to relevant contacts, suggesting a need to provide support services (Downes et al., 2018) with tax credits to maximise effectiveness.

Policy 2 involves improving UK infrastructure to enhance trade efficiency, increase market access and lower costs thus promoting export growth and boosting ‘economic potential’ (Msulwa, 2021). By lowering production costs, exports become more competitive and demand can increase. UK exports are significantly restricted by the efficiency and speed of ‘transhipment’ in airports, taking up to four hours per airside compared to 45 minutes in Dubai (Mace, 2022), illustrating the need improved UK competitiveness.

Pisu et al. (2015) further state that the UK has ‘spent less on infrastructure compared to other OECD countries over the past three decades’ meaning this policy, whilst costly, may be necessary and due. This policy, notably, provides jobs during construction of the project and the effect of this is significant with construction employing 8% of the UK population.

Improving UK infrastructure also allows those with appropriate skill-sets to ‘increase the talent pool’ (Reynolds, 2022) and access job opportunities through ‘new housing development’ or ‘strong public transport links’ promoting productivity and attracting investment for domestic industries (Horsman, 2020). The policy thus enhances domestic production and international trade, reducing UK reliance on Chinese imports by improving own production and diversifying imports, therefore, aiding in reducing the trade imbalance.

Policy 3 involves imposing tariffs on imports from China. This can reduce the competitiveness of Chinese goods by increasing prices meaning domestic goods will be relatively less expensive. Tariffs thus support domestic businesses and deter imports, both contributing to reducing the trade imbalance. However, data from 151 countries over a period of 51 years reveal tariff increases are ‘associated with an economically and statistically sizeable and persistent decline in output growth’ whilst increasing unemployment and inequality, therefore, reducing social welfare.

Labour productivity, already an issue for the UK, is found to decline by 0.9% after 5 years (Furceri et al., 2020) and the effect of this is greater for advanced economies (Furceri et al., 2018). It is estimated that the remaining US tariffs against China will reduce long-run GDP by 0.22% and wages by 0.14% (York, 2022) whilst Furceri et al. (2018) find tariffs do not improve trade balances due to appreciation, i-[‘reducing the competitiveness of UK exports, brought about by a tariff increase. Politically, tariffs may also lead to a deterioration in relations and invoke retaliation that imposes costs on the UK.

Policy Recommendation

The policy recommendation is policy 2. Whilst significantly more expensive than other policy options, the benefits are widespread, sustainable and help reduce the UK-China trade imbalance by promoting domestic production, exports and reduced reliance on Chinese imports. The policy benefits both the UK, allowing wealth to spread across the nation (Reynolds, 2022), and other countries through improved efficiency and international trade.

Bivens (2017) states this policy is useful for ‘macroeconomic stabilisation’ with the ‘output multiplier’ significantly higher than other ‘fiscal interventions’. $100 billion spending on infrastructure boosts job growth by roughly 1 million full-time equivalents meaning policy makers should avoid ‘short-termist thinking’, despite prevailing economic conditions. This policy enables modernisation and improved connectivity, necessary due to the ‘desperate need of increased capacity’, overcrowding and aging infrastructure (Reynolds, 2022).

The lack of evidence on tariff effectiveness at reducing trade imbalances, the risks of retaliation and potential deterioration of economic growth suggest policy 3 may be more harmful than good. Instead, improving infrastructure will likely not invoke reductions in employment and equality, nor will it deteriorate relations with china, making it economically and politically superior. Whilst policy 1 may incentivise exports, policy 2 achieves this by providing capacity and speed whilst enabling the establishment of new industries and opportunities that benefit the entire economy.

Promoting exports through tax credits experiences similar issues to the government’s currently implemented ‘Exporting is GREAT’ campaign which is limited by business owners lacking skills and contacts, and a lack of awareness and access of support for entering into international markets (Downes et al., 2018) suggesting the policy may minimally impact the trade imbalance.

Sources:

Gaby Stokes: Uyghur Muslim forced Labour in Xinjiang

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Gaby Stokes

DATE: 19 March 2023

RE: Uyghur Muslims forced Labour in Xinjiang

Summary

I am requesting for there to be a complete ban on trade of polysilicon goods. The production has used forced labour by Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang exploiting modern day slavery act.

To ensure the UK still has the capacity to import Polysilicon from China, the government should subsidise its ethical production in alternatives to Xinjiang factories. The policy analysis develops off current work in US and other recommendations.

Background

Xinjiang is populated with around 10 million Uyghur Muslims (Gries, 2023). As a part of the CCP’s attempt to grow loyalty of religious minorities to the party, socio- economic conflict has arisen leading it to be ‘one of the most heavily policed regions in the world’ (Zenz, 2019 Cited in Kriebitz & Max, 2020). Under Xi Jinping’s administration ‘re-education camps’ of Uyghur Muslims have been discovered.

UK MP’s have declared this CCP policy as an act of genocide against the Uyghur Muslims through the acts of forced assimilation and labour acting as a crime against humanity (MPs, 2021). According to the UN (2022), evidence from a 26-person interview found ‘patterns of inhuman, and degrading treatment in the camps’ between 2017 and 2019 (Maizland, 2022) going against Article 23 Declaration of Human Rights that states free choice of employment for citizens (Murphy & Elima, 2021).

This impacts the UK as forced labour being connected to the western supply chain and considering China being UK’s largest importing partner as of 2021, contradicts the UK’s moral stance on forced labour (Office for National statistics, 2022). We need to make sure that the UK is not contributing to the abuse in these factories in Xinjiang, and so a new UK policy is needed to try and prevent this ‘genocide’ through acts of modern slavery.

Xinjiang factories are responsible for forced labour in many industries, but since China is the world’s largest producer of solar grade polysilicon, which are used to make solar panels, it’s vital that the UK maintains Polysilicon trade relations via ethical sources (Figure 1).

Since 4/6 of Polysilicon producers are in the Xinjiang region, efforts are needed to shift production away from forced labour camps (Ambrose and Jolly, 2021). Investigations have found that 40% of UK solar farms are built from leading Chinese companies including Trina Solar so new policy needs to shift this pattern of production (Ambrose and Jolly, 2021).

Figure 1: 2020 Polysilicon production Market share (Murphy and Elima, 2021)
Figure 1: 2020 Polysilicon production Market share (Murphy and Elima, 2021)

Analysis of policy options

Recognising the crime of humanity polysilicon factories in Xinjiang have brought I propose these following recommendations:

  1. ‘Solar companies listed in this memo should conduct in-depth human rights due diligence on its factory labour, including audits and inspections. This should include an assessment of the conditions and safety of workers using a range of information’. (Gries, 2023):

Such Solar Panels companies have been using Polysilicon since 2016 including, Bluefield Solar and Foresight Solar. According to a 2020 Report by The Foresight Solar fund, Xianjiang region companies including Solar Trina had supplied 13% of its panels to UK sites. (Ambrose and Jolly, 2021). This shows the entire of the solar panel supply chain is a part of the human right exploitation. So, bottom-up investigations can be conducted into the ethical nature of polysilicon production.

From this, new contracts can be rewarded to those who source from factories that respect human rights of religious minority (Ambrose and Jolly, 2021). Problem is that 3rd party audits may lack transparency while they may be rejected by President Xi Jinping. China’s index of media freedom has fallen to North Korea rate since his ruling, (figure 2). All solar companies should presume, unless evidence, that production is under forced labour.

Figure 2: Graph show China strict information environment (Variety of Democracy Project, cited in Hendrix, 2021)
Figure 2: Graph show China strict information environment (Variety of Democracy Project, cited in Hendrix, 2021)

2. A ban on the importation of Polysilicon produced in factories located in Xinjiang region:

This would entail a large-scale restriction on any goods entering the UK containing the material. Large fines can be implemented on any companies found to be exporting goods to the UK containing Polysilicon under disguised names. This policy has the potential for a high success rate, with the US ban on cotton and tomatoes produced in the Xinjiang region effectively reducing the trade of cotton between the US and China by 41% between 2021 and 2022 (Taplin, 2022; Cockayne, 2022).

The efficacy of the USA’s policy demonstrates the potential for a successful ban on the importation of targeted products by sector produced in Xinjiang – with the UK ensuring they are not engaging with trading partners actively breaking universal human rights. This will help the UK separation from the acts of Coerced Labour. But, regional import ban may result in reallocation of production of polysilicon under forced labour to other regions of China so not fixing the ground problem.

3. Subsidise Chinese companies that manufacture polysilicon in factories not located in the Xinjiang region:

The use of sanctions has not been an effective measure against slave labour conditions – the responsibility lies on Western buyers to find ‘slavery free’ goods, which are often more expensive as labour wages for workers are higher. Cockayne (2022) states that moving production away from factories located in Xinjiang would be at a cost of USD $500 million.

If the British government helped subsidise companies through this transition, the price of ethically sourced Polysilicon would be lower for UK consumers and encourage faster emergence of alternative supplies. But this is not an immediate change and so will not help Uyghur Muslims in the short run.

Policy recommendation

The most feasible policy I put forward for the UK to intervene with this human right abuse issue is Policy 2 due to past evidence of import bans being successful for the US. With, UK and USA having similar imports patterns and economic models it increases the probability of it working for UK.

To increase this further you could tie this policy with other countries such as South Korea who rely on polysilicon as it more likely to succeed if backed up by more than 1 country. So collectively, a reduction in trade means there will be less pressure on China’s export – orientated economy to source cheap, unregulated labour.

The outcome of this will relive Uyghur Muslims from being a target of this type of Western demanded labour, protecting their human rights.

Sources:

Joe Hindley: Increasing UK aid investment in developing nations for more effective management of Chinese investment

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Joe Hindley, University of Manchester

DATE: 20 March 2023

RE: Increasing UK aid investment in local institutions in developing nations to allow for more effective management of Chinese investment

Summary

Chinese foreign investment has increased dramatically in recent years, with outbound direct investment growing from next to nothing at the start of the millennium to $100 billion in 2015, making China the world’s third largest foreign investor (Lee, 2018). A substantial proportion of this investment is targeted at developing countries - particularly in Africa - with loans for transport, communications and energy being a priority.

However, often little regard is given to the ability for the recipient country to repay these loans, causing countries such as Ecuador, Zambia, and Sri Lanka to accrue large debts; often in return for poor quality or ill-conceived infrastructure projects (Dube & Steinhauser, 2023).

This is a call for UK policy makers to put a greater emphasis on investment in local institutions within countries targeted by Chinese investment to ensure they can efficiently manage these investments and reap the maximum benefits from such projects.

Background

China has been the premier investor in Africa since the advent of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 which has resulted in a trillion dollars in international loans. Chinese state-owned enterprises make up the largest proportion of investment inflow to Africa which has had several tangible benefits including income rises, increased trade and stimulation of the industrial economy (Yu, 2021).

Chinese construction companies can arrange convenient financial packages from Chinese banks and insurers, giving these companies an advantage in project bids (Dube & Steinhauser, 2023) . However, these companies and banks, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), often do not implement social safeguards or ensure that the recipient will be able to repay loans.

Additionally, many of the Chinese financed projects such as the $2.7 billion Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant in Ecuador and the Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectric plant in Pakistan have proven to be poor quality, with the latter permanently closing just four years after opening costing Pakistan $35 million per month in higher power costs (Yousafzai, 2022).

Further projects, such as road building in Zambia, have been called wasteful, saddling countries with huge debts for largely useless projects (Lee, 2018) leading some, such as Tanzania’s president, to label such investments ‘exploitative’ (Chaudhury, 2019).

While Chinese investment certainly brings huge benefits to the developing world, mismanaged projects and exploitative loans also have the potential to do more harm than good, costing recipient countries hugely.

Policy options

UK to provide investment alternatives to China:

Africa and the rest of the developing world present a massive investment opportunity to all countries looking to vent domestic capital. The UK government could adapt its investment strategy to out-compete China by making competitive loan offers on infrastructure projects of the highest quality and are well thought through. This would ensure the recipient nation gets a fair deal and that projects are effective, while also benefiting the UK’s economy.

However, it would be an unfeasible undertaking for the UK to match the foreign investments of an economy five and a half times its size - not to mention the incredible advantage that China has over the UK in terms of domestic manufacturing, meaning the UK would also have to overcome China’s advantage in material and labour supply. Moreover, China maintains an advantage in investments over the UK through its policy of not imposing any political conditions (with the exception of adoption of the ‘one China policy’) on recipient countries (Information Office of the State Council, 2014).

This makes China’s loans more attractive to developing nations as the no strings attached approach means the projects are often completely on the recipients’ terms - something the UK government would be unwilling to support in cases where human rights or democracy are at risk. Thus, whilst this policy option may have some benefits both for the UK and developing nations, it is not scalable, would require an entirely new national investment strategy and is very expensive.

Working with China:

Working in partnership with China to provide equitable loans and investments is another policy option. The UK could offer additional financing and expertise for projects on the premise that only well conceived, mutually beneficial projects are undertaken.

However, Beijing tends to work unilaterally on aid projects and investments and would be unlikely to welcome UK intervention. Even if a partnership were accepted on certain projects, exploitative practices would continue in investments outside the partnership.

Additionally, the decoupling of China from western economies, and increasing tensions between China and the UK on the international stage also makes this intervention increasingly unfeasible.

Investment in local institutions to manage Chinese investments more efficiently:

A third policy option is to channel UK aid spending to strengthen the capacity of local institutions and confer expertise in financial, environmental, and labour assessments to local and national governments as recommended by Tjønneland(2020) and Parton (2020).

This policy option would ensure that the immense potential benefits of Chinese investment in the developing world continue to be realised, whilst empowering the nations themselves to ensure loans and initiatives are well thought through, unexploitative and will not lead to the build up of unnecessary debts.

This intervention would help to ensure the vast swathes of Chinese investment is spent responsibly on effective projects, saving the recipient country millions of dollars in interest repayments and repairs of low quality construction projects.

However, this intervention could be seen by the CCP as meddling in their foreign affairs and would certainly aggravate Chinese companies looking to profit from investments in projects which could increase tensions between London and Beijing (Parton, 2020).

Status quo:

By not acting, the UK government runs no risk of upsetting the CCP in a time of escalating tensions between China and the West. However, by doing nothing, exploitative loan practices will continue, costing developing nations millions of dollars annually, potentially undoing the work of UK aid investments.

Policy Recommendation

From this assessment, investment in institutions to empower local and national governments to make well informed decisions in the face of seemingly limitless Chinese investment is the best policy option, ensuring developing nations reap the benefits of effective Chinese investments and avoid wasteful projects.

This option will guarantee that local and national governments vulnerable to so-called debt-traps make well informed decisions with adequate long term scope for the investments. It also offers excellent value for money for the UK government as the relatively cheap intervention has the potential to save developing countries, such as Pakistan, millions of dollars annually, aiding their development.

Sources:

  • Chaudhury, D. R. (2019). Tanzania President terms China's BRI port project exploitative. The Economic Times.
  • Dube, R., & Steinhauser, G. (2023, January 20). China’s Global Mega-Projects Are Falling Apart. The Wall Street Journal.
  • Information Office of the State Council. (2014). China’s Foreign Aid. Beijing.
  • Lee, C. K. (2018). The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa. University of Chicago Press.
  • Parton, C. (2020). Towards a UK strategy and policies for relations with China. The Policy Institute, King's College London.
  • Saeedy, A., & Wen, P. (2022, July 13). Sri Lanka's Debt Crisis Tests China's Role as Financier to Poor Countries. The Wall Street Journal.
  • Tjønneland, E. (2020). The changing role of Chinese development aid (CMI Insight 2020:1) 8 p. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.
  • Yousafzai, F. (2022, November 23). Closure of Neelum-Jhelum project costing Rs10 billion extra per month to consumers. Retrieved from The National: https://www.nation.com.pk/23-Nov-2022/closure-of-neelum-jhelum-project-costing-rs10-billion-extra-per-month-to-consumers.
  • Yu, S. Z. (2021, April 2). Why substantial Chinese FDI is flowing into Africa. Retrieved from LSE: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2021/04/02/why-substantial-chinese-fdi-is-flowing-into-africa-foreign-direct-investment/.

Ka Lok Chau: The National Security Law in Hong Kong

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Ka Lok Chau, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

DATE: 21 October 2023

RE: Issues involving the National Security Law in Hong Kong

Summary

The National Security Law (NSL) 2020, passed by the Chinese National People’s Congress, criminalised secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces. The vaguely defined law uses the pretext of national security to “‘decimate’ the territory’s freedoms” and peaceful protests(Hong Kong security law has decimated freedoms, 2021).

The UK must confront this issue as it bypasses HK’s Basic Law which was established by the Joint Declaration between China and the UK. Strengthening Sino-UK communication can encourage a diplomatic solution and calm the CCP’s fear of separatism in HK. UK mediation and negotiations would be dependent on the willingness of China to participate in the global economy and geopolitics or risk being further ostracised by the international community.

Background

The UK’s commitment to Hong Kong dates back to the mid-19th century Opium Wars and the ensuing colonisation of the coastal region. Its post-colonial economic and political importance led to peaceful cooperation for its transfer back to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The culmination of maintaining positive relations allowed the negotiation of The Joint Declaration in 1984, which stipulated the “One Country, Two Systems” scheme of rule and ownership.

While the British conceded ownership, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) would receive a “high degree of autonomy” and civil liberties for 50 years, with Britain maintaining the right to “monitor its implementation closely.” (House of Commons Library, 2021)

Observance of this treaty is a duty of the UK parliament and violations of this justify political intervention in Hong Kong. Therefore, Beijing’s controversial NSL demands attention and a change in foreign policies. The ambiguously defined NSL has criminalised many freedoms previously enjoyed by the HK public under Basic Law and symbolises a breakdown of the democratic process.

Its effects are perfectly demonstrated by the high-profile arrest of Jimmy Lai, the owner of a pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, under “charges of conspiracy to publish seditious material and collusion with foreign powers” who will be trialled by non-impartial judges(Yu, 2022).

The law challenges the freedom of expression and has been used to prosecute protestors outside of the standard judiciary system. Additionally, The International Association of Lawyers, a non-governmental organisation, has already questioned China’s violations of Basic Law, highlighting several concerns including “the designation of a list of judges to hear NSL cases by the Hong Kong Chief Executive” (UIA, 2020).

Policy Options

Current foreign policies have implemented alternative citizenship pathways for Hong Kongers, however, it neglects to directly confront Chinese obstruction to HK’s autonomy. The launch of the British National (Overseas) visa in 2021 allowed the option for permanent settlement into Britain and be protected by British national laws. While this offers shelter for HK citizens, it fails to protect people who are unable to move or are already arrested under the new NSL.

Furthermore, it has already deteriorated UK-China relations with the People’s Daily article arguing that it violates the Joint Declaration and “seriously interfere[s]” in China’s domestic policies (Cai & Lian, 2023). The Beijing opinion labels protestors as advocates of independence, therefore, UK support furthers the breakdown of Sino-UK communication.

Another policy from the UK home office has been to denounce the growing authoritarian rule under Xi Jinping. Rishi Sunak, in a 2022 foreign policy speech, describes China as a “systemic challenge to our values and interests” but refuses to label it as a “threat” (Allegretti, 2022). Unfortunately, this has garnered a variety of criticism from Xi’s China as well as pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong.

Mainland China maintains that the West has “sugarcoated anti-China forces in Hong Kong as ‘fighters for freedom’”, further rejecting Sino-Western diplomatic negotiations (Zhong & Liang, 2023). Meanwhile, anti-Chinese spokespeople characterise UK foreign policy with a lack of action and failure to recognise the security implications beyond economic concerns (Duggan, 2023).

Continuing these policies will further worsen UK-China relations while neglecting meaningful change to Hong Kong under the NSL. Due to this lack of escalation, the UK has successfully averted economic sanctions from China. Significantly, its implication would be drastic as China, by 2021, became Britain’s “largest import partner” alongside a £39.1bn trade deficit (Donnarumma, 2022). Consequently, British political influence over China has suffered from an increased interconnection of economies.

This would also indicate that any foreign policy based on aggressive trade sanctions, similar to the US trade-war approach, would become unfavourable for the UK economy. Despite this, a hard-line approach could solidify the UK’s power in global geo-political, pro-democracy discussions.

In contrast, UK-led negotiations can confront China’s gradual dismantlement of the political system, which has led to HK’s movement from a “flawed democracy” to a “hybrid regime” in the Economist’s 2020 Democratic Index. Its analysis also highlighted that the NSL “curtails Hong Kong’s political freedoms and undermines its judicial independence” (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2020).

However, it would be key to maintain the fact that these discussions do not promote separatism, but a reunification with democratic processes as stipulated by the 1984 Joint Declaration so that it does not provoke Chinese anger.

In addition, the release of political prisoners prosecuted by the NSL, including Jimmy Lai, is of paramount importance. It would be advantageous for Xi to cooperate and prevent further condemnation from global political bodies. Therefore, joining anti-China international bodies can be used as a threat to further alienate the PRC and force concessions.

Policy Recommendation

The need to restore HK’s civil and political liberties whilst maintaining a positive Sino-UK trade relationship requires constructive diplomatic communication. Current policies such as BNO visas and denunciation of Xi’s authoritarian regime jeopardise the possibility of a peaceful resolution.

Highlighted by the “wolf warrior diplomacy” tactic that encouraged a clash between Chinese consulate staff and HK protesters, on October 16 2022 in Manchester. Escalations of this policy could further anger Chinese nationalists, which the CCP relies heavily upon for its legitimacy (McAndrews, 2022). The danger of economic repercussions from China without a settlement of the issues brought about by the NSL would be catastrophic.

The policy for negotiation has the potential to anger pro-independence advocates, however, it would initiate negotiations for the re-establishment of freedoms and autonomy in HK. The UK should appeal to Xi’s desire for “One Country” without tarnishing its reputation of international economic cooperation. Simultaneously, it could strengthen UK-China cooperation and consolidate the UK’s influence in pro-democratic world affairs.

Sources:

Leonardo Parker: United Kingdom trade and investment relations with the People’s Republic of China

Leonardo Parker

TO: Secretary of State, The Rt Hon. James Cleverly MP

FROM: Leonardo Parker, FCDO, London.

DATE: 9 March 2023

RE: United Kingdom trade and investment relations with the People’s Republic of China

Summary

The challenge presented by the rise of China is one of balance. Balance between our legitimate security concerns (which are shared by many of our allies) and the significant potential for economic benefit that comes with improved diplomatic relations. Our security concerns and foreign policy objectives can be addressed whilst also welcoming investment from, and trade with the PRC.

UK-China relations should not be viewed as a zero-sum game. We must recognise that not all Chinese investment is a threat; there should not be an assumption in place that suggests the motives for all investments are malign in seeking to undermine UK security interests.

The FCDO should advocate a more tailored and specific approach that seeks to maximise economic potential whilst maintaining sovereignty and security over sensitive industries and sectors.

Background

In the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022 China was the UK’s fourth largest trading partner accounting for 6.3% of total UK trade. Over the same period the value of imports from China exceeded the value of exports to China by £40.1bn (Department for International Trade, 2023). Whilst the notion of ‘reliance’ can be used as political hyperbole in favour of a certain cause, we should be looking for means by which we can strengthen our position.

The model of Chinese state capitalism makes the public-private distinction much more difficult than when dealing with liberal democracies and their free-market economies. It is often all too easy to trace the links from a supposedly private and independent company back to the Chinese Communist Party. This stems from the historical context whereby capital accumulation was accepted as part of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ provided it served the good of the nation and not just the individual.

The authority of Western governments to rule comes from their democratic mandates and whilst this is not true in China it would be a severe mistake to suggest that the rule of the CCP is any less legitimate as a result. The authority of China’s leaders comes not from the ballot box but from their ability to deliver on behalf of the population, we should therefore not fall foul to western projectionism.

Given this, the Chinese government has just as much of an incentive to foster a well performing economy as democratic nations do, but there is less of a requirement for the government to protect the rights of the individual. The policy recommendations that follow are cognisant of this information.

Policy Options

There are three broad strategies that could be taken by any British government:

  1. China is a ‘systemic challenge’ and our primary geopolitical rival. We have fundamentally different views on human rights and the rise of China presents a unique threat to our way of life. This argument views UK-China relations through the lens of rivalry and a global balancing of power. Accepting this framework as the basis for relations sees China primarily as an ‘ideological challenge’ and places the role of China as an economic competitor and opportunity second. The element of this argument that is most compelling is the necessity for the UK to take a robust line on human rights with China. We must do this jointly with our allies and avoid the attitude of moral relativism that undermines our position.
  2. China is both a significant opportunity and a challenge. We should recognise our differences with China but not seek to essentialise them to the extent we miss out on great economic potential. A primary objective of British foreign policy should be to deepen knowledge and understanding of China. The UK faces a continuous strategic disadvantage through a lack of expertise on China (Gatson and Mitter, 2021) so a greater degree of understanding can help with recognising the balance of risk and opportunity.
  3. A more laissez-faire approach to China. The rise of China should be seen primarily as a huge economic opportunity for Britain and its businesses; this attitude is synonymous to the former Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘golden era’ policy (Parton, 2020). Viewing China as an ideological challenge has the potential to stifle business opportunities. We should not be concerned about a global geopolitical rebalancing provided Britain’s interests are preserved.

Each strategy has its own merits and shortfalls but to distil the best overall policy, the FCDO should balance priorities using two central questions; firstly, is this policy making Britain safer? And secondly, does this policy facilitate or hinder economic development?

The ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ put forward in the government’s Integrated Review (IR) is the right policy but there remains the challenge of resources (Maddox and Lawrence, 2023). There is a risk Britain may spread itself too thinly without further investment in its defence, development and soft power capabilities. To this end, maximising British soft power by working with the BBC World Service and British Council forms a central part of the IR Refresh (HM Government, 2023).

The Indo-Pacific is a contested region but represents huge economic opportunity (International Relations and Defence Committee, 2021). If we are to compete with China in this sphere, membership of the Asia-Pacific CPTPP trading bloc should certainly be pursued and funding for multilateral pacts such as AUKUS should be at least maintained if not increased.

Policy recommendations

The closest thing to a ‘silver bullet’ solution to the challenge of China is education. A deeper understanding of China across business, society and government simultaneously reduces the risk of British security interests being undermined, and enables better personal and business connections between the UK and China which subsequently facilitates economic growth.

A British foreign policy towards China focussed on shared understanding of each other’s cultures, economies and histories will improve diplomatic relations, help maintain UK sovereignty and security, and provide economic benefit and opportunities for business.

So to conclude, the UK should avoid Chinese foreign investment in infrastructure projects critical to national security (including energy security), maintain a robust approach to China on issues of human rights, and facilitate further cultural and institutional understanding between the UK and China. This understanding-based approach to foreign policy is best placed to facilitate a global climate of stability where business can flourish but where the security and sovereignty of nations is respected.

Sources:

Lily Walker: Protecting the rights of the Uyghur people through reshaping forced labour supply chains

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Lily Walker

DATE: 19 March 2023

RE: The UK’s role in protecting the rights of the Uyghur people through the reshaping of forced labour supply chains

Summary

Chinese authorities have been remoulding the Uyghur population of Xinjiang for over 70 years. In recent decades these measures have escalated, with thousands being sent to ‘re-education’ camps where forced labour and mass surveillance is used to supress the population.

In this memo, I suggest the establishing of a board of analysts, which aims to rank businesses and government agreements involvement in forced-labour practices, including global TNCs, and the issuing of detailed advice, fines, and even eradication of supply chains if they are found to have a low index.

Background

Native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), located in northwest China, are the Turkic ethnic group known as the Uyghurs. With a population of over 12 million (BBC, 2022), the mostly-Muslim XUAR is the most concentrated Muslim region in China (Human Rights Watch, 2005).

This region has been subjected to discriminatory policies since 1949, with the introduction of state-sponsored population transfers of Han Chinese to Xinjiang from other parts of China, as well as other government-led controls in the 1990s (Human Rights Watch, 2009).

Over the last decade, coinciding with the rise of Xi Jinping, more aggressive schemes in Xinjiang have taken place, with the UN human rights commissioner declaring that China had committed “serious human rights violations” (OHCHR, 2022, p.43).

It is suspected by the UK, as well as other powers that more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims are being placed in large networks of ‘re-education camps’ (BBC, 2022), where forced labour, forced sterilisation and indoctrination methods are being used to strip the religious freedoms away from the group (BBC, 2021).

In a report carried out by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (2020), it was found that 27 factories in 9 Chinese provinces are using Uyghur labour. These factories were found to be in the supply chains of at least 82 well-known brands, including Apple and Nike.

The impacts of China’s policies are not localised, impacting not only UK-China relations, but also global brands, often working closely with governments, entailed in forced labour practices. The consumerism related to these companies means that these practices are inevitably enforced, as people buy products from them.

Though policies have been put forward by the British government as well as other nations, they have not wielded enough pressure, therefore I believe that further coordinated government action is needed in order to ensure the human rights of Uyghurs are protected, whilst also breaking away from the cycle of forced-labour supply chains.

Policy Options

In order to set out my proposal, it is important to examine previous policies addressing both the human rights violations in Xinjiang and its connections with global trade agreements and supply chains, introduced by the UK, US, and Canada:

The UK announced a package of measures aimed to break away from Xinjiang supply chains by increasing support for UK public bodies to exclude businesses complicit in human rights violations from their supply chains (Gov.uk, 2021) as well as proposing the introduction of financial penalties for businesses that do not comply with the Modern Slavery Act (Department for Business & Trade, 2021).

Though these policies allow for greater discourse between businesses and governments regarding diversifications to supply chains, in practice, these measures have not been effective, evident with the court’s ruling in favour of UK imports of Xinjiang cotton in 2023, even though the government previously wanted to penalise businesses for importing Xinjiang products (Just Style, 2023).

The USA also have taken direct policy action in tackling forced labour in Xinjiang, through the passing of the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act in 2021 (U.S. Department of State, 2022). The act aims to restrict the importing of goods made with forced labour in Xinjiang into the US market, therefore decoupling itself from the supply chains.

Due to the status of the US as the leading global superpower, this is an important step forward in increasing pressure on China as well as defending the rights of the Uyghur people. Nevertheless, it doesn’t control where those products go instead, meaning products will just be redirected to other countries, supporting the Xinjiang factories.

Canada have coordinated their policies alongside the UK, announcing a comprehensive approach to protecting the rights of Uyghur Muslims in 2021. Broken down into seven measures, they focus on increasing awareness to Canadian businesses, regarding responsible business conduct in Xinjiang, by offering advice to businesses, as well as conducting studies into forced labour supply chain risks (Government of Canada, 2021).

These policies are a key move forward in defending Uyghur rights and though it the measures include prohibiting Xinjiang imports; the other measures are ambiguous. The measures concerning giving advice do not explicitly state that all companies should go through scheduled training. These recommendations mean that not all companies may accept advice, or even follow through with advice given, which could further exacerbate forced labour chains.

Policy Recommendation

Clearly, a collective global approach is vital in tackling Xinjiang human rights abuses. Therefore, I suggest the establishment of a dedicated panel, ensuring UK trade agreements and supply chains are not facilitating forced labour practices. Including a range of actors, such as policy analysts, human rights lawyers, NGOs, and Parliamentary representatives, the board would analyse agreements, investigating their involvements in tainted global supply chains, and determining their index of involvement.

UK businesses would be required to report their international goods movements with the board, and advice, fines, and in extreme cases redirecting of supply chains would be issued if they are found to have a low index. This index would be similar to the pre-existing Universal Human Rights Index, which effectively reviews the human freedom in different countries (European Commission, 2022).

Frequent communications with other nations and TNCs involved in these supply chains, especially the 82 well-known brands as previously mentioned, is central to its effectiveness, allowing for a coordinated global approach to tackling forced labour in China. This policy allows for trade agreements to be investigated in-depth, unlike recently, with UK government agencies failing to investigate cotton imports from Xinjiang (Siddique, 2022).

Though it may be difficult to get certain TNCs who rely on these chains to get involved, alternative deals as well as subsides could be decided in return for them to agree. Overall, the board would commence a restructuring of global supply chains which is key to protecting the rights of Uyghur Muslims in Xinxiang.

Sources:

Matthew Lodge: Reducing the trade imbalance with China

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Matthew Lodge

DATE: 19 April 2023

RE: Policy proposals for reducing trade imbalance with China

Summary

I have proposed 3 policies to counteract the increasing trade imbalance with China.

Firstly, a free trade agreement aimed to reduce costs to exporting firm allowing more competition in the Chinese markets.

Secondly, export promotion service to advice exporting firms to reduce trade costs, mitigate cultural barriers and give strategic guidance when entering Chinese markets.

Thirdly, currency manipulation to decrease the value to the pound making our exporters goods appear cheaper to Chinese buyers.

Background

The UK and China’s trading relationship has grown over the past decade. However, so has the trade deficit the latest figures show imports from China at 49 billion while exports only at 30.7 billion resulting in a trade imbalance of 18.3 billion1. This chronic imbalance if left alone could lead to future economic problems.

The increasing deficit on Chinese goods could lead to economic dependency on critically important goods and services for our economy.

This means that we expose our economy to potential risks trough vulnerability to external factors that could destabilise the economy through supply chain disruptions. Dependency means we could loss control of our economic and policy decisions if they do not align with China through the fear of retribution.

Further implications of this imbalance is the increasing pressure on our floating exchange rate as more money is leaving our economy it is devaluing the pound. Therefore, the UK will find it more expensive to import the raw materials and goods increasingly pushing up inflation causing further destabilisation.

The nature of the Chinese economies cheap labour has the ability to cause more job losses as they undercut price points of the British companies the Chinese state-capitalism model makes sure that the government is heavily involved in the businesses.

Financially many British companies cannot keep up with the capital investment that the Chinese companies have this means that they have comparative advantage over many industries.

Policy Options

Policy proposal 1 - Free trade agreement between the UK and China.

Currently, there is no free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries resulting in both parties paying more for goods and services.

This proposal will give British exports the ability to compete on a fairer playing field with Chinese suppliers as the FTA will replace the current tariffs, quota and additional administrative costs facing British exports allowing these companies to reduce their prices and compete with their Chinese counterparts.

FTA’s have been tried and tested and empirical results imply an annual growth rate of 5.57% in exports, leading to a doubling of exports after 12.4 years, between FTA partners which will significantly improve the trade imbalance2.

However, once the barriers to trade have been lifted the Chinese suppliers will have full access to our market therefore, with their cheap labour there will be significant risk over amount imports may increase. On top of this we have some sectors that currently have severe protectionist policies to safeguard our domestic trade and this policy could destabilise many sectors.

Policy proposal 2 - Increase the publicly funded export promotion service to create a specific department to target the Chinese market.

This policy would be aimed at reducing barriers to exportation such as the informational market failure, co-ordination failure and missing market which many businesses face yet some do not have the capability to overcome. By increasing the UK’s exports, we will reduce the trade imbalance with China. The policy works by a government service advisory open to be approached by firms when an option to expand into the Chinese market arises.

Government provides expert advise on how to reduce trade cost, mitigate the cultural barriers involved while advising on strategic integration into a risky new market for UK firms. The general literature for this proposal is strong with similar economically developed countries of Portugal found small and medium sized firms reporting a exporters improved performance by 16.9% following a 10% increase in the export assistance budget3.

With the consensus that export promotion increases both exports and the productivity of firms overseas4. However, as a government funded policy there are the implication of the opportunity cost, specifically is this the best use for tax-payers money when a decrease in the trade imbalance even though is highly possible is not a certainty.

Policy proposal 3 - Currency manipulation

The policy involves devaluing the Great British pound sterling through intervention in the foreign exchange market. By the bank of England selling GBP the increased supply of currency will make the value decrease, the knock-on effect is that British goods will look cheaper in terms of Yuan creating an advantage to domestic firms to export to China.

Also, this will have the effect of making the Chinese goods appear more expensive to the British consumer thus reducing the imports from China closing the trade imbalance5.

However, currency manipulation’s by-product is inflation due to the increase in money supply in order to implement the strategy. Economic stability by manipulating monetary policy can have a detrimental impact it is used to mitigate and recover from external shocks6.

Also, China heavily manipulate their own currency as they do not have a floating exchange rate system meaning if they are unhappy with this policy, they can devalue their own currency in retaliation resulting in no positive effects from this policy own negative effects on economic instability.

Policy recommendation

All three of my policy proposals have both negatives and positives however, I believe that publicly funded export promotion service on balance is the best option. Overall, this policy will reduce the trade imbalance with limited risks.

Unlike the FTA, exports will not increase by a large amount nonetheless the FTA has the ability to have an adverse effect on the trade imbalance purely because China hold a large cheap labour force.

Currency manipulation is too risky in my opinion in the current climate of the UK with inflation at 9.2% manipulating the money supply could have categoric consequences and is too risky for the benefits that it can deliver. This being said when the economy settles down again this may need to be reconsidered.

Sources:

Max Gale: The impact of Taiwan Strait geopolitics on the semiconductor trade and UK national security

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Max Gale

DATE: 19 April 2023

RE: The implications of geopolitics along the Taiwan Strait on semiconductor trade and UK national security

Summary

The core policy this memo makes is to diversify UK imports of semiconductors away from China and Taiwan due to the risk of geopolitical instability along the Taiwan Strait. A conflict would put the UK economy at risk because currently the UK tech industry relies on semiconductor imports from China and Taiwan. Diversifying includes two main actions.

Firstly, investing into supply chains centred around long-term stable trade partners like the US and EU.

Secondly, investing in UK’s advanced compound semiconductor industry and R&D to provide the UK a presence within semiconductor supply chains.

Background

Semiconductors underpin the national infrastructure of the UK and are significant to security and wellbeing. Semiconductors are basic components in computer chips and all electronic products including cars, heart monitors, communications infrastructure, appliances, computers, and AI. Semiconductors can be Split into two broad categories.

Silicon based semiconductors are the dominant type, 80% of the world’s semiconductors are made of silicon, they are present in over 90% of electrical devises (House of Commons, 2023).

Compound based semiconductors are more expensive than their counterparts but are used specifically in high tech industries as they are more functional in complex systems than silicon-based semiconductors. The UK is a leading country in High tech and R&D and currently has a local industry producing compound-based semiconductors, contributing to 0.5% of semiconductor sales worldwide (House of Commons, 2023).

Semi-conductor demand is predicted to rise as they become more prolific in production of smart devices, AI, and automobiles. Importantly, semiconductors are essential towards achieving net zero carbon emissions and innovating technological mitigation of anthropogenic climate change (House of Commons, 2023).

Concern has been raised as to the stability of the semiconductor supply chain due to geopolitical instability along the Taiwan Strait as a result of US-China trade tensions and increasing Chinese military activities around Taiwan. If the situation should escalate, the supply chain for semiconductors and all products that use them will be disrupted increasing market prices and negatively impacting technology related industries.

A new policy towards semiconductor trade is needed to give the UK economy more resilience in case of a geopolitical conflict between Taiwan and China during which, stable supplies of semiconductors would diminish.

Policy Options

  1. Recent Government Policy

    Recent government policy intends on deepening trade relations with Taiwan to collaborate on semiconductor supply chain production. Furthermore, it focuses on increasing relations with Taiwan and ‘lowering market access barriers’ – UK Trade Minister, Greg Hands (Department for International Trade, 2020).

    The UK’s Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult (CSA Catapult) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to promote collaboration on R&D of semiconductors and semiconductor trade between the UK and Taiwan (Department for International Trade, 2020).

    The advantage of this policy is that the semiconductor market is already well established in Taiwan. By increasing trade relations and cooperations with Taiwan, the UK will be able to mutually grow local industry and gain from outsourcing to Taiwan. This is only beneficial if relations along the Taiwan Strait remain stable.

    The disadvantage is that a geopolitical conflict between China and the US/Taiwan could see trade halt with Taiwan, therefore increasing interdependency with Taiwan could hinder the UK economy if trade capabilities suddenly change.

    This policy is high risk given current political tensions. Another disadvantage is by investing further into Taiwan, there is a lack of diversity on where the UK imports semiconductors from. A lack of diversity can increase potential UK economic instability, and further economic reliance on global market conditions.

  2. Policy proposed by House of Commons Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee

    This policy proposes to invest into UK production of semiconductors and R&D industry (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, 2022).

    In addition, policy encourages building trade relations with EU and US to diversify semiconductor market. It would be beneficial to capitalise on the UK compound semiconductor industry, in which demand is expected to exponentially increase in the future.

    This policy is advantageous because strengthening UK’s position as a player in the semiconductor market will provide soft power for further international trade relations. In addition, it will enable the UK to grow local R&D industry and semiconductor industry generating economic productivity.

    Both diversifying and investing in local industry will make the UK more resilient to potential global economic fallout resulting from a conflict along Taiwan.The disadvantages are that by reducing investment and dependency on Taiwan and not China together, international relations may be harmed as it could be interpreted that the UK are not supporting Taiwan as a independent state from China.

    Doing so could further validate China’s reasons to enter a conflict with Taiwan. By diversifying away from specifically Taiwan, the UK could further chances of conflict.

  3. Policy Recommended

    The policy proposed in this memo draws upon the policy proposed by the House of Commons Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy by implementing diversification and investment into Western trade partners and local compound semiconductor industry (House of Commons, 2023).

    Furthermore, it will suggest to also diversify from dependency on China as well as Taiwan, to remove an interpretation of political bias. Moving dependency away from Taiwan and China will reduce potential for international instability (discussed in the previous policy) and would be less likely to agitate the situation along the Taiwan Strait, whilst strengthening UK position and resilience to global market externalities and geopolitical conflict if China becomes aggressive to Taiwan.

    The disadvantage to this policy is that currently the semiconductor supply chain is well developed in the South China sea including both Taiwan and China. Creating new supply chains and developing existing industry could prove difficult and in the short-term economically deficient compared to policy 1.

    However, the risk posed by a geopolitical conflict is currently very high, therefore this policy would likely be more sustainable in the long-term and mitigates against global semiconductor market risk. Furthermore, this policy will benefit integrity in the international community by abstaining from a binary political situation along the Taiwan Strait.

Sources:

Megan Chin: Strategic collaboration and investment in the space sector between the United Kingdom and China

Megan Chin

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Megan Chin

DATE: 23 February 2023

RE: Strategic collaboration and investment in the space sector between the United Kingdom and China

Summary

The space sector is rapidly expanding, and there is growing recognition of its importance for economic, technological, and strategic reasons. China has emerged as a major player in the space sector by making bold investments in space technology.

The UK is fortunate to possess a well-established space industry, with world-class expertise in areas such as satellite technology, spacecraft manufacturing, and space applications.

However, it is facing increasing competition from other countries, leaving the UK’s space industry vulnerable. In this foreign policy memorandum, I will advise on the potential for strategic collaboration and investment in the space sector between UK and China.

Background

The Chinese government has identified the space sector as a key priority, intending to become the world's leading space power by 2045.[1] China’s space program has made significant progress in recent years. Most notably, China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) includes a significant space element, with its network of railways, roads, ports, and shipping routes all facilitated by a rising number of Chinese communications, Beidou PNT system, and Earth observation satellites.[2]

Concerningly, China is aggressively promoting the deployment of the Beidou PNT system in a variety of global operations, including mapping, agriculture and transportation, to the military.[3] This would encourage the use of PNT receivers and other user hardware manufactured in China, supporting China’s satellite navigation industry. In addition, the Beidou training program would advance Chinese PNT standards in international forums, which could eventually weaken the UK’s economic and geopolitical influence in the long term.[4]

The two subsidiary projects of the BRI, the Digital Silk Road and the Space Information Corridor (also known as the Space Silk Road), were unveiled to complement the initiative by offering space-based services to BRI member states.[5] This promotion of Chinese space and satellite technologies has led to increasing BRI member states' reliance on China, allowing Chinese companies and state corporations to dominate the space and satellite sector.

Moreover, in recent years, the space sector supply chain and services market are undergoing a great decoupling from Chinese commercial partners due to long-term conflicts of interest.[6] As companies attempt to stay competitive and governments strive to preserve their geoeconomics interests in space, this decoupling is likely to be the catalyst to supply chain realignments, market share volatility, and industry consolidation.

As this happens, the UK must take immediate action in safeguarding its space interest to ensure it can compete on a level playing field. This can be managed in a way through strengthening collaborations with China and enhancing its competitive advantage by implementing an extensive and ambitious innovation drive.

Failure to act could result in the UK being reliant on other countries' space capabilities, or worse, China could drive the UK space industry out of global markets, rendering it powerless in one of the most crucial strategic domains of the twenty-first century.

Policy Recommendation and Justification

Based on the above analysis, I recommend that the UK should explore opportunities for collaboration and investment in the space sector with China. This includes:

  1. Pursuing strategic collaboration and investment in the space sector with China

    Collaboration between the UK and China in the space sector would serve as a tool for alliance and coalition building between the two countries. This alliance would bring significant benefits to both countries. It would enhance the UK’s understanding of China’s space strategy and enable it to tap into Chinese space expertise.

    The Australian Space Agency and the UK Space Agency have established a UK-Australian "Space Bridge" that harmonizes space policies and regulatory environments to promote national space sector collaborations and mutual investments.[7]

    This might serve as a model for future space collaboration with China. Collaboration with the UK would give China access to the UK's technological expertise in the space industry. The UK has an established reputation for developing cutting-edge satellite technologies and is a significant contender in the global space industry.[8]

    Collaboration in the space sector would also have strategic importance for the UK. The space sector is becoming increasingly important for national security, with space-based assets playing a key role in areas such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.[9]

    With this collaborative venture, it is crucial to take into account the possible implications of knowledge and technology transfers to China as well as regular assessments of China's space capabilities and their potential effects on UK security.[10] However, despite this security concern, collaboration with China would provide the UK with insight into Chinese space capabilities and intentions, which is vital for strategic planning.

  2. Explore space-based initiatives in cooperation with BRI partners

    In light of China’s assertive influence in BRI partners, particularly Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, the UK should explore space initiatives with these countries to provide viable economic alternatives to unsustainable Chinese infrastructure and economic development deals.[11] The UK could assist them in developing and utilizing superior space technologies. Moreover, this alliance would serve a strategic purpose by allowing the UK and these countries to proactively coordinate their approach in implementing strategies to counter China’s influence.

  3. Increase government investments in UK-China Virtual Joint Space Laboratory

    Large-scale government investment in UK-China Virtual Joint Space Laboratory[12] would reinforce the UK and China’s partnership in space. The investment would create opportunities and encourage UK space companies to form joint research and development ventures with Chinese counterparts, which could result in the creation of world-beating space technologies and products. Moreover, the UK would benefit by being able to harness skilled Chinese space scientists and engineers in future joint research projects. This could serve as a basis to establish long-term platforms for personnel exchange as well as for exploring cooperative agreements between the two countries in the space sector.

Conclusion

Collaboration and investment in the space sector between the UK and China would allow the UK to protect its space interest whilst delivering world-beating technologies and applications at a time when they are desperately needed. The UK is best advanced through an internationalist strategy that acknowledges when technology and consolidation call for an approach beyond a domestically oriented policy perspective.[13]

This collaboration would be prosperous for both countries. It would enable the UK to tap into Chinese space expertise and provide China with access to UK space technologies. Collaboration would also have strategic importance, providing both countries with a better understanding of each other’s space capabilities and intentions. I, therefore, recommend that the UK explore opportunities for collaboration and investment in the space sector with China.

Bibliography

Journal Articles:

Government publications:

Websites:

Notes


[1] M Silk & K Flanagan, “Competition and collaboration: the future of UK-China space relations” (2002) On Space, pp. 22-24 <https://research.manchester.ac.uk/en/publications/competition-and-collaboration-the-future-of-uk-china-space-relati> accessed 24 February 2023

[2] J B Sheldon, “Britain and the Geopolitics of Space Technology” (2021) Policy Exchange <https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/britain-and-the-geopolitics-of-space-technology/> accessed 23 February 2023

[3] L Gao and RWoo, “China’s Beidou navigation system to serve $156 bln home market by 2025,” (Reuters, 26 May 2021) <https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinas-beidou-navigation-system-serve-156-bln-home-market-by-2025-2021-05-26/> accessed 25 February 2023

[4] T Tsunashima, “In 165 Countries, China’s Beidou Eclipses American GPS,” (Nikkei Asia, 25 November 2020) <https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Century-of-Data/In-165-countries-China-s-Beidou-eclipses-American-GPS> accessed 25 February 2023

[5] Ibid 2

[6] A Downer, “The West is falling behind China in the next space race” (The Spectator, 5 November 2021) <https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-west-is-falling-behind-china-in-the-next-space-race/> accessed 25 February 2023

[7] UK Space Agency and Department for International Trade,” ‘Space Bridge’ across the world will help UK and Australia get ahead in global space race” (GOV.UK, 23 February 2021) <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/space-bridge-across-the-world-will-help-uk-and-australia-get-ahead-in-global-space-race> accessed 26 February 2023

[8] Ministry of Defence, “Defence Space Strategy: Operationalising the Space Domain” (GOV.UK, 1 February 2022) <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-space-strategy-operationalising-the-space-domain> accessed 26 February 2023

[9] Defence Committee, “Defence Space: through adversity to the stars?” (UK Parliament, 18 October 2022) <https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5803/cmselect/cmdfence/182/report.html> accessed 27 February 2023

[10] Ibid 1

[11] J E. Hillman, “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Five Years Later” (CSIS, 25 January 2018) <https://www.csis.org/analysis/chinas-belt-and-road-initiative-five-years-later> accessed 5 March 2023

[12] UK-China Joint Laboratory for Space Science and Technology <https://www.ralspace.stfc.ac.uk/Pages/UK-China-Joint-Laboratory-for-Space-Science-and-Technology.aspx> accessed 6 March 2023

[13] Ibid 2

Mirah Okhai: The Introduction of Security Laws in Hong Kong

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Mirah Okhai

DATE: 15 March 2023

RE: The Issues Surrounding the Introduction of Security Laws in Hong Kong

Summary

In 2020, Hong Kong saw the introduction of a national security law, to crack down on pro-democracy activists, criminalising the acts of freedom speech and assembly. The UK has a long-standing interest in Hong Kong's political and economic stability and has expressed concerns regarding the Chinese government's actions that violate the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Not only is it a violation of the joint declaration, but also defiles their basic human rights. This memo aims to target the challenges this breech of freedom and reinstate Chinas commitment to the 1997 Hong Kong Basic Law and provide specific policy recommendations to the UK government.

Background

Hong Kong had been under British colonial rule since the mid 19th Century and handed back to China in 1997, due a range of economic and political and the UK wanted to strengthen their relationship with China. The Sino-British Joint Declaration was a legally-binding treaty created prior to the change of power to ensure the protection of the country, ‘Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, rights and freedoms would remain unchanged for 50 years’ (Raab, 2019).

In 2014, protests erupted in response to the announcement by the Chinese government that Beijing would be screening candidates for the position of Hong Kong's chief executive. This declaration highlighted Beijing’s increasing control over Hong Kong, and that they were slowly trying to filter out their ‘one country, two systems’ pledge (Raab, 2019). The resulting confrontations between protesters and law enforcement strained the relationship between China and Hong Kong significantly.

This chaos ushered the Chinese government into forming the National Security Law (NSL), prohibiting free speech, right to assemble and other fundamental human rights. Individuals who engage in activities like criticizing the Chinese government or promoting independence could be viewed as subversive under the NSL, and face severe consequences such as life imprisonment. This could generate an atmosphere of anxiety and pressure, causing people to refrain from speaking up or expressing their opinions, out of fear of retaliation.

The violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration through the introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong necessitates a British policy response. The Joint Declaration guaranteed Hong Kong's separate legal system and protection of its basic human rights until 2047, which China has disregarded. As a signatory to the agreement, the UK has both moral and legal obligations to act against China's actions in Hong Kong, to ensure that its principles are upheld.

Policy options

The introduction of economic sanctions is a policy to consider, to pressure China to revert the NSL. This could be done by freezing Chinas British assets, minimising business relations and creating travel bans on government officials. These economic pressures could restrict the function of the Chinese economy and disrupt trade relations with the UK and their allies.

Coordinating with the UK’s allies can create added pressure to make a change and may encourage other countries to convey their disapproval of the new law. However, the UK relies on China for many resources as there are a major trading partner for the country. This could end up with a retaliatory response from China, by returning trading sanctions and potentially limiting resources, so the government will have to careful work to mitigate any negative consequences of such sanctions.

Another policy option is to offer asylum to Hong Kong’s citizens to protect them from risk of prosecution. The British government has already taken the step to offer holders of British National Overseas (BNOs) passports in Hong Kong in to seek refuge in the UK and assist them in achieving citizenship. This gives them an opportunity at a better quality of life where they have more freedom and autonomy. While this is a great scheme, the UK may not have the resources and accommodation to care for all those who need to escape these hardships, which may lead to splitting up families and long waiting lists.

The reality is that many individuals may be unable or unwilling to leave, and the National Security Law will continue to exist. This could also lead to further diplomatic consequences as UK could be seen to be meddling with Chinas internal affairs, creating further rises in tension, and damaging their relationship with china further. Taking such actions could potentially result in diplomatic repercussions, as the UK may be viewed as interfering in China's internal affairs. This could escalate tensions between the two nations and worsen their already strained relationship.

A final policy option is to create diplomatic pressures by publicly condemning their actions and acquiring international support to persuade China. Coalition with international organisations such as the UN or non-government organisations could be very effective in increasing the awareness of the damages to HK’s human rights. Gaining this type of support from leading organisations can assist pro-democratic activists in their fight for change and encourage other like-minded country to how their support for Hong Kong.

Chinas global status is of major power and it is likely they will show no reaction to some international disapproval. They may also retaliate by creating sanctions on the UK for creating uprises against them, stunting the UK’s economy.

Policy Recommendation

I would say economic sanctions is the most effective way to apply pressure on China to make a change. They have broken their treaty so it’s the UK’s responsibility to limit their trade and business relations. Putting physical pressure on China will have a more direct effect on the willingness for change rather than publicly talking on the issue and not have such a visible impact.

These sanctions can be targeted specifically at individuals, entities, or sectors that are involved in human rights abuses in order to target pressure on those responsible and minimise the effect on the larger population. Sanctions could also weaken China's economic power and give Hong Kong more bargaining power in negotiations with the Chinese government.

Offering asylum in the UK is a good bandage, but not a permanent solution as the NSL will still remain in affect. If the sanctions are harming their economy, it could potentially force China to reconsider its behaviour to change its policies and stick to their promise of ‘one country, two systems’ (Raab, 2019).

Imposing sanctions shows a strong message to China that the UK is serious on defending their human rights and democracy, as well as encouraging other countries to take a stand towards them. This would be beneficial for Hong Kong as it would help to protect its autonomy, freedoms, and human rights which is the most important problem to be solved.

Sources:

Rachael McAleese: Preventing the Forced Labour of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Rachael McAleese

DATE: March 2023

RE: Preventing the Forced Labour of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang

Summary

It is well-publicised that Xinjiang is the centre of one of the largest government-inflicted human rights abuses in the world. Due to the connection to forced labour, a business and human rights (BHR) approach is required to tackle the issue. This memorandum recommends targeted sanctions of officials responsible, and increased diplomacy.

Background

The government of China have undertaken a crusade to culturally, and possibly physically, eradicate the Uyghur population of the Western province of Xinjiang (Hendrix & Noland, 2021). Atrocities committed include forced relocation, internment of over one million Uyghurs in nearly 1200 ‘transformation through education’ centres (US DOS, 2021), and the unproportional arrests of the ethnic group, which have been deemed “crimes against humanity” (Amnesty International, 2021).

The economic impact for China was significant. Xinjiang experienced exponential growth in output, now producing 20% of the global supply of cotton and 45% of polysilicon (Davidson, 2020).

The UK must act from a moral obligation, their legal duty to protect vulnerable peoples from human rights abuses (David, 2022), and the responsibility to ensure it is not complicit in abuse as a significant trading partner of China.

According to the UK Foreign Secretary in 2021, the goal is “that no company that profits from forced labour in Xinjiang can do business in the UK, and no UK business is involved in their supply chains” (Raab, 2021) yet the UK has primarily weaponised rhetoric against the treatment of Uyghurs with an absence of enforceable legal framework.

In his measures, he accepted possible British firms’ connivance but gave no restriction on operation in the region (FCDO, 2021) instead advising “careful and robust” due diligence (FCDO, 2022) which is insufficient given the challenge of doing so in an area with limited access (GOV UK, 2022).

Analysis of Policy Options

Economic Sanctions:

Broad trade sanctions tend to only work when the target is small and international players are united (Hufbauer et al. 2009). Given China’s status as a key player in global trade, comprehensive sanctions seem impossible and expensive, yet the benefits cannot be ignored.

Not only would they convey disapproval of the treatment of Uyghurs and insulate the UK economy from products produced through forced labour, but sanctions would force the private sector to complete more thorough due diligence in their supply chains (Hendrix & Noland, 2021). The UK has proposed measures to fine companies unable to guarantee their supply chains are clean of forced labour, but this does not pertain to every company (FCDO, 2023).

Regional restrictions pose an effective alternative. Following the example of the US’s ‘Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act’ blocking the import of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang, the UK could restrict the import of goods (specifically cotton) produced in the region that cannot provide clear evidence of their independence from the atrocities. This will act as a warning for businesses, manufacturers, and officials operating in Xinjiang (Polaschek, 2021) and the harsh stance may serve as a preventative measure for future issues.

This policy assumes all regional goods are a product of human rights violations (unless proven otherwise) and given the mentioned difficulty in proving the morality of the supply chain, it is likely almost all products will be restricted, subjecting the international supply chain to pressure, spiking prices, and squeezing profits of UK businesses forced to shift suppliers. This may prove costly, but at what point are we willing to sacrifice human rights for trade?

However, it is more complicated than cost. Nationwide forced transfers have infected the supply chain for products seemingly unassociated with the region reducing the effectiveness of the policy. Most significantly, there is a risk of trade war with our second largest trading partner (Walker, 2023).

Targeted Sanctions and Diplomacy:

While the UK has raised concerns with China, the Chinese continued dismissal of the mistreatment of the Uyghur population as “baseless” indicates that more than talking is necessary. The non-cooperation for an independent investigation of the ‘education’ centres (Echols, 2021) sufficiently evidences that the only likely result from further talks is strained UK-China relations due to what is deemed as inference in Chinese domestic affairs. The UK utilised diplomacy thus far by joining the US, EU, and Canada in sanctioning four Chinese officials and part of the XPCC in March 2021 (FCDO, 2021).

Under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, the UK can further hold China to account, as it recently has for human rights abusers in Russia, Iran, and Myanmar, sending the message that the UK is devoted to our signatory on the Modern Slavery Act (2015). This is likely more effective than pressure alone but contains lowered risk of economic drawbacks than import sanctions.

The UK could introduce targeted sanctions on (non)Chinese firms supporting the surveillance state. Human Rights Watch (2021) recommends imposing sanctions on firms supplying surveillance technology to China, specifically ‘Hikvision’ which has been linked to the internment camps (McDougall, 2023).

Such a stance again shows commitment to upholding human rights and puts actions to the words of the previous Foreign Secretary, as no one should profit from forced labour. The problem again lies in the possibility of reciprocation if China deems to designate UK firms as unreliable entities too, likely leading to an economic war within the tech sector, having unpredictable implications for bilateral relations and the UK economy.

Policy Recommendation:

I recommend a policy of continued diplomatic engagement with both China and the international community, utilising organisations such as the United Nations through which appropriate investigations can be conducted. While unlikely to significantly ameliorate the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, little evidence suggests serious relationship deterioration. Parliament’s rhetoric of ‘genocide’ has not been ratified by government yet “describing a crime is secondary importance to taking action” (Buckwald, 2019).

Therefore, I highlight the necessity of further sanctioning Chinese officials guilty of committing human rights violations, agreeing with Human Rights Watch (2023).

While China will likely respond with its own sanctions against British officials (as it did in March 2021), there is less economic fallout than that caused by trade restrictions or tech sanctions and allows direct accountability of those responsible. Additionally, as these sanctions are largely symbolic (imposing travel bans and freezing assets), I echo Smith in his characterisation of it as a “badge of honour” (Wintour, 2021) - indication of the UK’s continued commitment to human rights. While sanctions will not eradicate forced labour, in ‘naming and shaming’ officials, it may reduce involvement post hoc or act as a preventative measure for others.

Sources:

Sam Blackett: A recommendation for revisions to sanction policies to prevent further Uyghur Prosecution in China

Sam Blackett

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Sam Blackett

DATE: 13 March 2023

RE: A recommendation for revisions to sanction policies to prevent further Uyghur Prosecution in China

Summary

Since 2014, it is estimated that over one million Turkic Muslims have been imprisoned in internment camps under CCP rule (Al Jazeera, 2018). These incarcerations are happening without the opportunity for legal counsel which is a cruel violation of human rights on a mass wide-spread scale.

I recommend a stronger series of sanctions against China in order to tackle the illegal persecution of Turkic Muslims with whom we in the UK share a special bond due to our own large Muslim population. These sanctions I advise include further trade, economic, travel, sports, and diplomatic sanctions that will each penalize China for its illegal persecution of its Turkic Muslim citizens, allowing for the termination of its cruel treatment towards this ethnic group.

Background

Of the 12 million, majorly Muslim, Uyghur individuals in Xinjiang, 1 million are being held illegally in detainment centres across the area (Xinjiang Census, 2022).

Given these recent statistics, it is critical that we acknowledge the very real threat of the CCP towards the Uyghur people and the implications of this persecution in the UK, China, and the rest of the World. As part of the UN and other international organizations dedicated to the safety and welfare of all individuals across the globe, it is our duty to step in and tackle injustices wherever they lie – even at the potential cost of diplomatic relations.

Should we fail to fulfil this duty then we will have allowed a corrupt state to commit a heinous act of genocide with impunity and this will set a dangerous precedent whereby other atrocities may arise again in China or elsewhere. This sanction revision is necessary as the previous sanctions have proven to be inconsequential in improving the treatment of the Uyghur people as detainment camps remain open and forced labour continues to drive a vast proportion of Xinjiang’s economy.

Previously, the UK imposed sanctions in the form of asset freezes and travel bans against officials in Xinjiang (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, 2021). However, these have proven to be insufficient in preventing the persecution of the Uyghur people as the United States ambassador has recently said that Muslims in China are increasingly subject to “discrimination and violence” (Hooper, 2023). For this reason, it is evident that we must diversify and apply harsher sanctions to China’s trade and foreign affairs to successfully liberate detained Uyghurs.

Policy options

Policy one is a recommendation for encouraging meetings between the UK and CCP and Xinjiang officials in China. Through meetings and discussions, an effort would be made to force China’s acknowledgement of its unjust treatment of its Uyghur population and encourage the disintegration and collapse of detainment centres across Xinjiang. This policy would be ideal as it would promote international cooperation and elicit culpability from the CCP. This could then display a turning point in UK-China relations as a new era of operational and informational transparency comes to fruition. However, this policy has been deemed unsuitable for this case due to the failure of previous attempts to meet with Chinese officials due to non-attendance and lack of cooperation (Reuters, 2020).

Another example of this fact is how China has continued to persecute the Uyghur people and failed to adhere to the World Health Organization’s rules and legislation regarding ethical economic and social practice since its admittance into WTO in 2001.
Policy two is a recommendation for implementing fast-track asylum options for Uyghurs attempting to flee China. This recommendation would allow for Uyghurs to seek asylum in the UK to avoid persecution from the CCP. While this would be an immensely powerful strategy, there would also be complications with fitting such a policy into the UK’s current complicated foreign immigration policy due to the sensitivity and debate around the subject.

With 23% of Brits today considering immigration and asylum as being in their top three most important issues faced by the UK, it is likely that the introduction of this policy would be met with much public scrutiny (English and Mann, 2021).
Policy three recommends the creation of new legislation that eliminates from UK supply chains any produce from the Xinjiang area, all exports of which are likely to be the product of the factories and farms attached to the detainment camps where Uyghur detainees are forced into labour.

This is a powerful double-edged policy as it acts as both an economic and trade sanction against China due to the cut-off of trade out of the Xinjiang area but also through the boycotting of Xinjiang-produced exports, we can demonstrate to rest of the international community our non-compliance with China’s discriminatory practices, while also increasing awareness about this breach of human rights. One issue with this policy is that innocent civilians in Xinjiang will also be affected by a cut-off of all trade with the UK. It is not in the UK’s best interest to cut ties with communities within China as the maintenance of international relations are also a critical aim of any foreign policy.

Policy four illustrates a descript list of multi-faceted sanctions that will attempt to hobble China through a robust series of economic, trade, travel, sports, and diplomatic penalties. Economic sanctions will aim to damage China’s economy by ceasing its trade with the UK, with particular emphasis on trade from certain parts of the Xinjiang area. Travel sanctions will prevent certain individuals from travelling to the UK, with particular emphasis on Xinjiang officials and others linked to the persecution of the Uyghur people. Sports sanctions would exclude China from participating in international sports competitions such as the Olympics, which will in turn damage the country's morale and urge citizens to pressure the government to reform its policies on the treatment of Uyghurs.

Policy Recommendation

Given the evidence, I suggest that policy four, a reformed series of sanctions, is the most effective policy recommendation. These sanctions will be balanced in severity and leniency to promote further diplomacy between our counties, avoiding animosity and hostility. For example, by imposing trade sanctions on the Xinjiang area we can prevent the farms and factories that are involved with Uyghur forced labour from exporting goods and therefore make them unprofitable.

This would remove the financial motivation for the CCP to use the Uyghur people for forced labour and therefore remove the incentive for their detainment. We can impose many sanctions like this that cause minimal damage to China’s wider society and economy while also removing the incentive for Uyghur detainment.

Sources:

Sam Bedford: Policies regarding the Genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Sam Bedford

DATE: 19 March 2023

RE: Policies regarding the Genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang

Summary

While it isn’t possible to directly ‘liberate’ the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, current UK policies can be improved with the intention to disrupt the Chinese economy to an extent where China no longer sees the oppression of Uyghurs as economically viable. Ways in which this can be achieved include the prevention of imports with origins of slave labour, and sanctions for corporations that do not follow these new guidelines.

Background

The oppression of Uyghur Muslims can be traced back to the formation of the CCP in 1949; the then majority Uyghur population in Xinjiang claimed independence due to their greater cultural and ethnic affiliation with Central Asian nations. This conflicted with the Chinese narrative that they have always held the right to govern Xinjiang.

This conflict became violent in 2009, where altercations between Uyghur and Han Chinese led to riots in which around 200 people were killed – officials stating most were Han-Chinese (BBC News, 2014). Separatist movements and the accusation of terrorism – 2014 Urumqi market attack that killed 31 people – have been used to justify further persecution of the Uyghur population.

China’s Anti-Uyghur practices have become more extreme. Starting with the mass migration of Han Chinese into the area in an attempt to ‘dilute’ the Uyghur population. The table below shows the results of this policy.

Table 2 - (China Statistics Press, 2019)
Table 2 - (China Statistics Press, 2019)

This table demonstrates success up to around 1980, as this is where the Han population got closest to surpassing the Uyghur population. However, this table shows that growth in Uyghur population was largely unaffected, explaining why the CCP later resorted to more extreme measures.

In 2017, large ‘re-education centres’ were built. Up to 3 million Uyghurs, including religious and political figures, have been held here. The world quickly understood that these centres were actually concentration camps, making it the largest internment of an ethnic-religious minority since the Second World War (Boissoneault, 2022).

This topic bears importance to the UK. Not only do these work camps blatantly violate UN law, but the UK is a potential consumer of the products of these work camps. Almost 20% of the world’s cotton is from Xinjiang (Davidson, 2020), and evidence suggests that this cotton is farmed from slave labour. The principles of a consumer society almost guarantees that the British public has consumed products of Xinjiang origin, thus the nation must bear some responsibility and act to oppose this violation of human rights.

Policy options

  1. In 2021, the UK, alongside the EU, Canada, and the United States, imposed sanctions on 4 Senior Government Officials in China, as well as the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction corps (GOV.UK, 2021). These sanctions consisted of asset freezes and travel bans. One potential policy would be the strengthening of the extent and scale of these sanctions. In theory, stronger sanctions could scare Chinese officials into advocating against the prosecution of Uyghurs. However, China’s recent deglobalisation may suggest that they do not fear western powers, and so it’s possible that China will ignore the sanctions without any meaningful change.
  2. A more extreme policy that the UK could adopt includes the complete economic isolation of China. In 2021, the UK imported £63.6 billion of goods from China while China imported £18.8 billion of goods from the UK (Donnarumma, 2022). This means that on an economic scale, China would be worse affected than the UK. A financial loss of this scale, as well as the loss of a wealthy UK market could result in the relaxation of restrictions on Uyghur Muslims. However, this comes with disadvantages. Firstly, the vast Chinese market would be lost which could impact businesses that sell to China, and those that rely on China as part of their supply chains. Furthermore, I do not believe that this would create enough of an impact on China to create change. Perhaps similar action from the US – who makes up 17% of Chinese exports (Workman, 2022) – could force a change in Chinese policy. While this policy may most likely to force change, it is not plausible or realistic to enforce.
  3. It’s also an option to remove Chinese influence within the UK. This could be achieved through closing Chinese institutions such as Confucius Institutes. The UK government is set to close the 30 Confucius Institutes found on university campuses. These are institutes that encourage the learning of Chinese culture, such as language and cooking, but some claim that Confucius Institutions facilitate the learning of ‘communist-approved lessons that are a threat to free speech’ (Ryan, Owen and Bucks, 2021). To prevent support for China’s extreme policies, these methods of Chinese soft power could be removed. The scale of this could be widened to media such as films and TV. However, these policies could be interpreted as propaganda and censorship, and some may question whether these policies make the UK any different to the authoritarian regime that it opposes. Furthermore, the censorship of Chinese culture will only create fear and resentment within British populations. This does not facilitate understanding between nations, and will prevent relations from ever improving.

Policy Recommendation

The recommended policy is as follows:

  • UK-based businesses on all scales must undergo an in-depth supply chain review to identify any links to Xinjiang slave camps. It is important that this review is thorough and includes multiple tiers of production.
  • If any products are found to have been sourced in Xinjiang, alternate sources must be found.
  • Sanctions must be imposed on businesses that fail to comply. Fines can be given to businesses and increased taxes on the import of Xinjiang-sourced products to remove any financial incentive.
  • This policy will be focussed on the fashion industry, as cotton is an important product of Xinjiang slave labour.

This policy ensures that UK based businesses are not buying products that can be traced back to slave labour in Xinjiang. Sanctions in the form of fines provides a financial punishment that discourages businesses from abusing the cheaper prices of Xinjiang cotton. Increased taxes on Xinjiang products will also remove any financial benefits for businesses.

This is the preferred policy because it keeps the scope focussed on Xinjiang. By redirecting the production of the UK’s goods, the nation no longer plays a part in funding these work camps. If China sees a financial loss from these camps, then the policies will likely be abandoned. This does not solve the conflict between the majority Han-Chinese population and the Uyghur population, but it should force the removal of work camps and may cause a change in perspective from the CCP.

Sources:

Tarini Mohil: Human rights issues and atrocities concerning the Muslims in Xinjiang, China

Tarini Mohil

MEMORANDUM

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Tarini Mohil

DATE: 21 March 2023

RE: Human rights issues and atrocities concerning the Muslims in Xinjiang, China

Summary

The UK parliament, in April 2021 announced that China was committing genocide in Xinjiang (BBC, 2022). Thus, this memo makes a core policy recommendation to restrict and ban cotton products and commodities suspected of being produced by Uyghur in Xinjiang under forced labour. Implemented an embargo for products suspected of forced labour and being produced by the Uyghur group. Carrying out border inspections to boycott suspected commodities from crossing the UK Border.

Background

China is allegedly committed crimes against humanity and possible genocide against Uyghur and Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Xinjiang (BBC, 2022).

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has forced approximately 1 million people from minority groups such as Uyghur in Xinjiang into detention and re-education camps (AP NEWS, 2023). They are being persecuted by being tortured, forced to abandon their language and religion, forced into forced labour and have birth control policies forcing sterilisation (AP NEWS, 2023).

It affects the UK, as according to the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC), there are “high risk” cotton products which were imported into the UK by Chinese businesses, which were allegedly produced by the Uyghur Muslims under forced labour and “prison” standards (Sky News, n.d.). The director of Global Legal Action Network, Gearóid Ó Cuinn, states that currently UK consumers are “systematically exposed” to goods produced through forced labour (Chinese cotton sold in the UK could be from persecuted Uyghurs, court hears, 2022).

The widespread abuse is present throughout the cotton industry in China, especially in Xinjiang, with approximately, 570,000 forced cotton pickers in Xinjiang (Uyghur activists sue UK government over Xinjiang cotton imports, 2022). Thus, it is an important human rights issue as China yields a quarter of the world’s cotton, with 84% of the cotton in China coming from Xinjiang (Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond, 2021).

Xinjiang has the Urumqi Export Processing Zone (Urumqi EPZ), which has an area of 3 square kilometres. Thus, decoupling, for example, many western brands pulling out of Xinjiang, and the US’s ban on cotton from Xinjiang is steps taken to address sustainability and sustainable development for workers’ rights, including human rights, sustainable consumption, good health and reduced inequalities. Therefore, a new British policy is needed to address and alleviate violence and discrimination against the Uyghur community in Xinjiang.

Policy options

  • Option 1: Policy requiring UK businesses in China or any commodities having value chains in China to have transparency in supply chains which comply with the Modern Slavery Act, and remove any products which do not.
  • Option 2: Foreign governments putting pressure on the CRP government to end forced labour and discrimination against XUAR and by putting sanctions on senior Chinses officials responsible for the coercive action.
  • Option 3: Policy restricting trade commodities and products being produced with forced labour.

Having transparency in the supply chain, would push businesses to ethically source and manufacture their products and improve their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), thus, removing forced labour and pressure and abuse towards XUARA regions (Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond, 2021).

However, many factories outside Xinjiang abuse Uyghur Muslims into forced labour. The extensive issue of forced labour is widespread in China and is immensely difficult to monitor (Nagle and Cooke, 2017). Due to outside auditors being denied access to the factories in Xinjiang and forced labour workers being censored and silenced (Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond, 2021).

The Chinese government, PRC, has deliberately shifted its industries such as mining of raw materials, and auto part manufacturing, to XUAR or Uyghur regions, thus, embedding and making international supply chains dependent and affected by repressive programs and forced labour, with most products for exports being produced in an EPZ (Nagle and Cooke, 2017).

Increasing transparency in the supply chain only prompts international companies, Chinese companies would be incentives to keep their product costs low due to Deng’s Reform and opening, promoting Chinese businesses to sell exports to overseas markets at very low costs, competing with local businesses, which are not able to compete with the Chinese product’s low prices (Nagle and Cooke, 2017). Thus, increasing capital and government revenue due to Foreign Direct Investment.

Policy Recommendation

This recommended policy to block and seize XUAR region products and cotton is preferable compared to the current policy, which does not ban any cotton imports into the UK. Transparency of the supply chain is not enough as CRP can censor and be outside auditors and silence the Uyghur minority.

It is good for UK/China relations as well as international relations due to increased ethical business practices and the treatment of people, especially the Uyghur Muslim minority group in China is a very important human rights issue that must be addressed as with workers being paid nothing and living in terrorism or extremism conditions under the Xinjiang Aid programme (OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China, 2022). Forced working conditions are evidenced by satellite imagery showing the factories surrounded by barbed fences, guard towers and surveillance cameras (Nagle and Cooke, 2017).

The United States has taken a similar approach to decouple its economy by announcing a ban on cotton commodities from Xinjiang in January 2021 (Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond, 2021). Thus, the UK policy recommendation to ban imports of all cotton products sourced from XUAR is going to put pressure on Chinese government to take action to implement human rights and the treatment of workers. As China is mostly concerned with its ‘political security’ and the UK is a big importer of cotton and textile.

Additionally, banning cotton products from China and raising awareness of the atrocities concerning the Muslims in Xinjiang at an international scale would urge other countries to put pressure on China by Boycotting cotton from Xinjiang, helping to improve human rights for the Uyghur group (Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond, 2021).

Sources:

Yue Cui: Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Yue Cui, British Diplomat

DATE: 22 March 2023

SUBJECT: Future policy on Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure

Summary

The UK government’s policy to ban Huawei from involvement in their digital infrastructure could bolster the UK’s relationships with its allies, particularly the US, which has been urging other countries to limit Huawei’s involvement in their telecommunication networks.

However, this policy decreased the UK-China relations, and the UK may confront the risk of economic retaliation from China in the import and export trading market. The purpose of this memo is to recommend a future policy on Huawei’s involvement in building 5G infrastructure for the UK government, in order to mitigate negative impacts caused by the current ban.

Background

Over the last few years, Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, has grown into the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment in the world, nowadays, it is the only company that can produce all the components of a 5G network at scale and cost. The United Kingdom, which is the fourth country to have 5G in the world, has had a close collaboration with Huawei for 18 years, and allowed the company to deeply involve in the building of the country’s 5G infrastructure.

However, the United States believes that Huawei’s involvement in the country’s digital infrastructure will threaten the national security, as a result, they prevent Huawei’s 5G network from operating in the US. Despite the UK establishing a specialized centre in 2010 to monitor Huawei’s sensitive network activities in the UK to ensure their national cybersecurity, the UK government has decided to ban the purchase of new Huawei 5G equipment after 31st December 2020, and require all Huawei 5G equipment to be removed by the end of 2027.

The ban will inevitably result in a significant decrease of the UK-China relations and may cause huge economic costs for the UK. Therefore, it is necessary for the government to adopt some new policies to improve the UK-China relations and minimize the country’s economic losses as much as possible.

Policy options

  1. Keep limiting the role of Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure, endeavor to strengthen cooperation and communication with China in other areas.

    Although the UK has set up a centre which is used to be evaluate Huawei cyber security since 2010, as a matter of fact, it is not feasible to conduct a full inspection of electronic equipment (Friis and Lysne, 2021:1882). For one thing, the UK government should engage with China to address concerns over the security of 5G equipment supplied by Chinese companies like Huawei. This could involve working with China to develop shared standards for 5G security and establish strict regulations to ensure national security. If the security and transparency issues of Huawei’s 5G network can not be solved, then it is appropriate for the UK to limit the Huawei’s involvement in the country’s digital infrastructure due to the social and national concerns of security. For another, to avoid the deterioration of UK-China relations over limiting Huawei’s involvement in building the UK’s 5G infrastructure, the UK should maintain positive communication with China and seek alternative collaborations in other fields, such as exploring new energy, developing biotechnology, and jointly addressing the challenges of climate change, etc.

  2. Diversify the suppliers of 5G equipment

    According to a recent research (Krolikowski and Hall, 2023:3), if the UK government adopts a full ban of Huawei, then the restriction on Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure will result in enormous extra costs for the country and inflict disadvantages on British consumers and domestic industries that rely on mobile technology, this is because the UK, which had already made considerable investments in Huawei equipment over the past decade, would not be able to provide one-for-one alternatives to Huawei’s equipment, at least not in the short term. Therefore, the UK should collaborate with other countries, particularly its allies, such as the United States and some European countries, then the UK could identify alternative supply chains with those countries who have also invested heavily in 5G technology, in order to mitigate the negative impacts caused by its restrictions on Huawei. Besides, the UK government should provide funding for 5G research and domestic development of alternative technologies to promote innovation and competition in the 5G equipment market. This will not only encourage the development of new suppliers but also help to create new industries and jobs.

  3. Invest in 5G training program

    The UK government should develop a national 5G training program that provides targeted education on 5G. I noted that there are many targeted educational and training programs in the field of 5G in most universities of China and some Chinese tech companies, such as Huawei. I think that the UK government could also introduce a 5G curriculum into schools and universities to prepare British students for high-tech workforce of the future. This will provide many students with essential skills to pursue high-tech careers, particularly in the 5G sector, and help bridge the digital skills gap between the UK and the ‘super power’ nations like the US and China. While in the short term implementing a 5G curriculum in schools and universities may require the government to spend more financial expenditure to support it, however, from a long-term perspective, investing in a 5G training and education program could meet the high demand for technical specialists, contribute to the development of the UK’s 5G industry and subsequently benefit the economy.

Policy recommendation

The policy options, on the one hand, could preserve the UK and other member countries of the Five Eyes Alliance relations, especially the US, which is pressuring the UK to adopt a full ban on Huawei’s involvement in the country’s 5G infrastructure. Furthermore, the diversification of 5G suppliers and funding for 5G training programs could facilitate the development of technology in the UK, as well as the economic development in the long run.

On the other hand, constantly seeking opportunities to strengthen collaboration and communication with China in other areas instead of 5G infrastructure could mitigate the deteriorating relations of the UK-China, and meanwhile protect the national security from being threatened. In sum, we should be rigorous in dealing with international relations, especially in today’s globalized world.

Bibliography

  • Allen, B., Chadha, J., Kara, A., Mao, X., Pabst, A., Nguyen, D., Turner, P. and Xu, L., 2020. China and the United Kingdom: economic relationships. NIESR Landscape Series, (1).
  • Friis, K. and Lysne, O., 2021. Huawei, 5G and security: technological limitations and political responses. Development and change, 52(5), pp.1174-1195.
  • Huang, K., Madnick, S., Zhang, F. and Siegel, M., 2022. Varieties of public–private co-governance on cybersecurity within the digital trade: Implications from Huawei’s 5G. Journal of Chinese Governance, 7(1), pp.81-110.
  • Kaska, K., Beckvard, H. and Minárik, T., 2019. Huawei, 5G and China as a security threat. NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Center for Excellence (CCDCOE), 28, pp.1-26.
  • Krolikowski, A. and Hall, T.H., 2023. Non-decision decisions in the Huawei 5G dilemma: Policy in Japan, the UK, and Germany. Japanese Journal of Political Science, pp.1-19.
  • Lamb, H., 2019. Huawei 5G ban would be ‘big loss’ for UK. Engineering & Technology, 14(9), pp.12-13.
  • Pay, V.N. and Buszta, P., 2022. China in the UK’s Foreign Policy: Shifting to Progressive Liberal Internationalism. European Journal of East Asian Studies, 21(3), pp.372-394.

Anonymous FCDO Diplomat: Hong Kong’s National Security Law

TO: James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary

FROM: Anonymous FCDO Diplomat

DATE: 22 March 2023

RE: Hong Kong’s National Security Law

Summary

The imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong has resulted in a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and brought forth significant human rights issues. In response, the UK has taken three measures with which they aim to make their stance on China’s actions clear, all with their own pros and cons. The policy recommendation would be to take a more action-oriented stance against the breach of the treaty by placing sanctions on elite individuals who have a heavy influence on the Chinese government.

Background

In July 1997, Hong Kong was handed back to Chinese authorities after more than 150 years of British control. (BBC, 2019) During this time, China pledged to preserve Hong Kong’s unique nature by allowing it to keep its capitalist system and many freedoms which could not be found in mainland Chinese cities. (Maizland, 2019).

However, on June 30, 2020, Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong. The wording of the legislation has been described as “vague and overly broad” by UN spokesperson Rupert Colville, which “may lead to discriminatory or arbitrary interpretation and enforcement of the law, which could undermine human rights protection.” (United Nations, 2020)

Since the implementation, authorities arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists, lawmakers, and journalists; curbed voting rights; and limited freedoms of the press and speech. (Maizland, 2019) Article 37 of the law states that the law is applicable to incorporated or unincorporated bodies such as companies or organizations located in Hong Kong. (The Law of P.R.C.) This part of the law can have dire consequences on the many British businesses established in Hong Kong, whilst also potentially limiting business practices.

Furthermore, Article 38 states that the law is applicable to those who commit an offence “from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.” (The Law of P.R.C.) This presents a potential risk for any citizens from outside of China as well as those directly visiting Hong Kong, therefore a new policy is needed to ensure the security of not only British nationals but citizens around the world.

Analysis of Policy Options

  1. The UK has expanded its arms embargo to include Hong Kong as a result of the national security law. (Great Britain, 2022) The decision to no longer export potentially lethal weapons to Hong Kong is advantageous because it shows a clear stance on how the UK feels about China’s actions without taking extreme action such as a declaration of war. (Smith, 2016) However, it can be disadvantageous as the UK could potentially lose out on weapons contracts which can be detrimental economically. Another disadvantage would be the loss of soft power, as China would find another supplier and they would gain the favour which the UK lost.

  2. The UK has suspended their extradition treaty with Hong Kong. (Great Britain, 2022) An advantage would be the elimination of the possibility of any person whom the UK extradites being sent on to mainland China from Hong Kong. (BBC, 2020) A potential disadvantage is that conflict can ensue when dealing with extraditions, for example, the case of Meng Wanzhou and the immense toll it took on Canada-China relations. This situation also put the lives of two Canadians in danger when they were detained by the Chinese government in retaliation. (Wintour, 2021) Although the situation has been resolved, things escalated quickly, and the relations between China and Canada have yet to recover. (Wintour, 2021).

  3. The UK has created a new visa route for British Nationals Overseas. (Great Britain, 2022) An advantage is that British nationals who live in Hong Kong during these unexpected law changes now have the opportunity to relocate to the UK. One disadvantage is that the BNO visa is only available for those who are over 18 and a British national, or the child of a British national born after the handover of Hong Kong. (Great Britain, 2022) There are certainly many who don’t qualify on a technicality and consequently may not use the program. Another disadvantage is that the BNO visa can be quite costly, especially when paying the healthcare surcharge, which limits the visa to those who have a larger income.

Policy recommendation

The following recommendation is put forth with the intention to preserve human rights and to attempt to resolidify relations between China and the UK. The most desirable outcome for the UK would be for the national security law to be repealed and the terms of the treaty to be respected. However, these recommendations are made under the assumption that such drastic action is not likely to occur as of yet and therefore are based on the next best course of action which prioritizes the safety, freedom, and security of UK nationals.

The UK may place targeted sanctions on an individual basis in order to put pressure on the Chinese government. This policy would target China’s elite, oligarchs and potentially their immediate family members by implementing travel bans and financial sanctions. The Security Council developed targeted sanctions aimed at elite interests to be tightly focused so as to limit their humanitarian impact. (GPF, 2021).

This makes targeted sanctions more effective and less disastrous than broad economic sanctions, as they affect only the elites they are targeting and not the general population. (GPF, 2021) This policy can generate quick results, especially with the collaboration of other nations.

On a larger scale with more participants, the policy could block these influential individuals from engaging in the economic benefits of globalization. Overall, the policy makes the UK’s stance on the breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration clear, whilst also generating swift results.

Sources:

Anonymous FCDO diplomat: British Taiwan Policy

TO: Rt Hon James Cleverly - Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

FROM: Anonymous FCDO Diplomat

RE: Policy Memo: Taiwan and ongoing UK approach

Summary

The recent Integrated Review Refresh 2023 (IR23) 1 has further highlighted the ‘epoch defining challenge’ that China poses across all walks of UK foreign policy and specifically in the South China Sea. Over the last five years, UK foreign policy has taken an increasing focus and tilt to the Indo-pacific, in parallel China has become more aggressive in the South China Sea and its position towards Taiwan. Following the IR23 refresh, three policy options are available to His Majesty’s Government (HMG):

  1. Continue support of economic ties and collaboration with Taiwan but no military engagement if situation escalated with China.
  2. Option 1 and offer Taiwan non-military support to counter any escalated situation including cyber-support to respond to and mitigate Chinese threats.
  3. In addition to non-military support, the UK actively increases its military presence in the Indo-Pacific alongside it allies (potentially AUKUS) as a deterrence to China threats.

While the UK does not recognise Taiwan nor maintain formal relations, with only a Project Office in Taipei straits, we continue to support the view that the UK has a ‘strong unofficial relationship’ with Taiwan. Currently, we do not endorse military support. In 2020, Lord Ahmad spoke on behalf of the government of the UK’s ‘strong unofficial relationship’ with Taiwan ‘based on dynamic commercial, educational and cultural ties’.

Although we build on Lord Ahmed’s view that the situation in Taiwan should continue to be decided by the parties in Taiwan, HMG should do everything possible to strengthen ties with Taiwan without recognising it as an independent country. This includes further assimilation and inclusion of Taiwan in international bodies such as the World Health Organisation, and the UK to support Taiwan across as many sectors as possible, including cyber.

As such, Option 2 presented above would be our recommended approach.

Background

Over the last five years, UK foreign policy has taken an increasing focus and tilt to the Indo-pacific 2, in parallel the China has become more aggressive in the South China Sea and its position towards Taiwan. In the South China Sea an increasingly volatile relationship between Taiwan and China is developing.

Taiwan maintains its unresolved question of sovereignty: it operates as a de facto separate country with its own government, but China argues a de jure claim over the island. Since its split from mainland China, Taiwan has independently established itself as a highly developed nation in the global market, particularly in the tech industry (ref- GINI/Human development index compared to China).

In 2020 the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Tsai Ying-wen defended the current status quo of de facto independence but not provoking China by seeking de jure independence, but China maintains the right to use force against Taiwan’s de jure independence, posing a threat to global security. The CCP feel strongly in favour of reunification and are prepared to use hard power. In July 2021 Xi pledged to "smash" any attempts made by Taiwan to attain formal independence, seeking to unify Taiwan with China under ‘One China, two systems’.

Policy Options

Three policy options are proposed for your consideration:

  1. Continue support of economic ties and collaboration.

    Taiwan’s sovereignty should be settled by the two parties involved and the UK should develop its position in support of peaceful relations between China and Taiwan through the strengthening of economic ties and collaboration. The UK already has strong bilateral cooperation with Taiwan; between January and October 2022 the total trade between the UK and Taiwan was £4.51 billion, with particular interest in Taiwan’s renewable energy sector, where the UK has committed to share expertise on offshore wind farms (Walker and Curtis 2022). China is also investing in renewable energies: in the first half of 2022 it invested around £82 billion in solar and wind energies. Therefore collaboration would positively contribute to the development of the UK, China and Taiwan’s economies and environments. Protecting the health of the environment is an investment in the future which could contribute to Xi’s ‘China Dream’, however this would not necessarily diffuse China’s hard power and historical claim over Taiwan.

  2. Option 1 and offer Taiwan non-military support to counter any escalated situation including cyber-support to respond to and mitigate Chinese threats.

    Cyber-attacks, including ransomware and disinformation are a growing threat to global security (IR23). According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the risk of cyber-attacks rose by 75% from 2019 to 2020, and is predicted to cost the world £8.5 trillion annually by 2025 (Morgan 2020). The UK can assist Taiwan in developing joint cyber defence capabilities, including the development of joint cyber defence plans, protocols and procedures to keep its people, industries and businesses safe from Chinese hackers. Supporting Taiwanese cyber resilience to Chinese attacks to protect UK intellectual property and sensitive data in turn supports UK cyber resilience, a core aspect of the IR23. However, a limitation of this option is that it does not deter China’s military advances.

  3. In addition to non-military support, the UK actively increases its military presence in the Indo-Pacific alongside its allies (potentially AUKUS) as deterrence to China threats.

    China has increasingly been conducting military exercises in Taiwan’s territorial space. Despite Taiwan increasing its military capabilities, its security strategy is still largely dependent on its military and external balancing (Zhang 2011), therefore increased military presence in the South China Sea in support of Taiwan would deter China from attacking Taiwan. However, this may contribute to geopolitical instability as this could further deteriorate UK-China relations- this poses a risk of failure as China may perceive this as a threat and increase their military capabilities and spiral out of control.

Policy Recommendation

Overall, this policy memo recommends option 2, Increasing UK support to Taiwan around cyber security. The risk is increasing substantially as China invests in its cybersphere: the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is a pillar of the CCP’s five-year plan (2016–2020) for science and technology development and its “made in China 2025” plan. Through Public-Private partnerships between different players, effective planning and mitigation can help Taiwan to prepare for cyber-attacks.

Although Option 3 may be in our longer term sights, we do not recommend it at this stage due to the potential for conflict and rapid escalation. War should be avoided at all costs considering the significant impacts it would have on a global scale, such as the “likely collapse of the global economy” (Pike 2022).

Sources:

PRC foreign policy memos

Addressed to PRC Min. of Foreign Affairs Qin Gang (秦刚).

Isidora Reyes: Strategic partnership between China and the UK on Zoonotic Diseases

Isidora Reyes

TO: Qin Gang (秦刚)

FROM: Isidora Reyes (Chinese Diplomat)

DATE: 22 March 2023

RE: Strategic partnership for Zoonotic Diseases between China and the United Kingdom

Summary

Due to its extensive agricultural labour force and extremely biodiverse ecosystem, China is susceptible to the transmission of zoonotic diseases.[1] This puts the nation's public health in danger and places a heavy socio- economic strain on its people.[2]
Vaccines are essential safeguards as it allows people to continue their regular lives.

By March 31, 2023, the United Kingdom hopes to finish a comprehensive report on vaccine research and treatments.[3] Having the same objective, it is suggested that the main bio industries of China and the UK collaborate to address this issue through international cooperation.[4] In this foreign policy brief, I will discuss the potential for collaboration in the research and development of vaccines against zoonotic diseases alongside the significance of protecting wildlife.

Background

The UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land, which is concerned with protecting the sustainable use of various ecosystems, includes zoonotic.[5] Zoonotics spreads from non-human animals to humans and is contagious.[6] It can be viewed as a global public health issue given how regularly we contact animals in agriculture and the natural world.[7] Zoonotic illnesses are controlled, but they cannot be cured because they would still exist without humans.[8]

The COVID-19 outbreak represented a significant shift in understanding zoonotic pathogens and what human actions lead to zoonotic emergence by identifying drivers like climate change, deforestation etc.[9] It is in China's best interest to be proactive as they received negative attention with how they dealt with this virus. It was evident that China was slow to approach superpowers for assistance making it difficult to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading worldwide.

Furthermore, rather than the recipient nation's medical needs, China's vaccine supplies have been directly tied to self-interest.[10] Nicaragua received 1 million vaccinations after breaking diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of China, demonstrating how China's assistance has been accompanied by demands.[11]

A close collaboration is essential for China and the UK's economic prosperity in the second half of the golden age given their extensive shared interests in free trade and economic globalisation.[12] It is advantageous economically to start masking the spread as the pandemic caused the world economy to lose nearly $8.5 trillion over the two years.[13] More specifically, it shook the UK economy, as seen by the nation's GDP falling by a record-breaking 19.4%.[14] Thus, China must take initiative and increase international cooperation and establish safeguards as this requires collective work.

Analysis of Policy Options:

 

  1. One Health Approach

    "One Health" aims to achieve harmony across animal, environmental, and human health to where China and the UK currently follow through ongoing cross-sectoral collaboration and communication.[15] Preventative medicine can reduce the likelihood of exporting contagious organisms and reduce the burden and financial cost of zoonotic diseases.[16] There are presently effective vaccinations for some zoonoses, including rabies, which are 100% fatal when transmitted to humans and can be averted by immunisation.[17]

    To achieve the highest health outcomes this strategy must promote cross-sector collaboration. There are currently no defined techniques for evaluating the complexity of the gains generated from the holistic approach internationally due to the lack of agreement on leadership issues, resource and job distribution.[18]

  2. Multisectoral Approach

    Due to its extensive animal output, China is susceptible to emerging infectious diseases (EID).[19] The ability of China to prevent and prepare for public health emergencies are of international relevance. Hainan and Jiangxi, known to have a high risk of EID, serve as the project's primary implementation regions.[20] It aids in evaluating risk-based surveillance techniques for EIDs and antibiotic use in the human health and animal health fields.[21] Additionally, it promotes data exchange between multisectors to improve early warning systems and proactive reporting.[22]

    Joint risk assessments are said to reduce human exposure to wildlife.[23] Yet, because zoonotic diseases hamper internal and international trade, the local community may suffer from decreased food supply.[24] Rural livestock keepers frequently need their animals to do duties besides raising livestock.[25]

  3. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

    Due to the pandemic, BRI expanded and China was able to promote its "Health Silk Road" via the Middle East and North Africa.[26] Chinese companies along the BRI were able to gain access to new markets and benefit from mask and vaccine diplomacy.[27]

    Although China's expanded international trade and travel are lucrative and a sizable percentage of the world depends on Chinese products for their own economic recovery, it also means that zoonotic diseases can spread more quickly throughout the world.[28]

Policy Recommendations

I encourage China to look into potential for investment and partnership with the UK based on the aforementioned analysis. This includes:

  1. Research collaboration with UK universities/laboratories

    Wuhan Institute of Virology, which studies the deadliest viruses, would benefit from working with UK students to increase exposure, increase awareness, and accelerate the development of vaccinations.[29] With the aim of advancing medical research, this partnership will focus on Eurasia to identify multiple triggers.

    The UK is recognised for research and development through its universities and laboratories for vaccinations and experiments.[30] Moreover, the Animal Plant and Health Laboratory in Weybridge received £200 million investment in 2022 to fight Zoonotic diseases.[31] Both countries have good reputations in the zoonotic business, and cooperation would benefit both by allowing knowledge to be shared for quick detention and greater innovation.

  2. Nature preservation

    The ongoing legislative and educational initiatives are geared towards promoting public health, missing structural alterations that address the source.[32] Bats are linked to the majority of zoonotic diseases therefore we must accept that they, like other species, play a vital function in our ecosystem, and respect this by investing in nature preservation to respect their environment.[33]

    Wildlife policies should be centred on habitat protection, with long-term social consequences on sustainability and public welfare, including creating eco-friendly local livelihoods, reducing zoonotic diseases and pollution.[34]

    To maintain biodiversity, China should stop consuming wildlife, increase public understanding of biodiversity, and work to protect habitats.[35] Also, China must be more proactive in urging its BR partners to establish rigorous regulations to monitor habitat conversion and stop animal poaching and trafficking.[36] By investing in infrastructure abroad, China has the chance to create global networks of cooperation that assist environmental protection and conservation.

Conclusion

China may profit from the existing policies, which include developing the One Health and Multisectoral approach. Additionally, data shows that China must assume responsibility for encouraging environmental conservation through BRI partners.[37]
Vaccinations and environmental preservation are the best strategies to prevent zoonosis in the future, and China and the UK joining forces can foster economic growth while they jointly combat new diseases with the ultimate goal of fostering international cooperation.

Biblography

Government Publications:

Journal Articles:


Notes


Yan Yinan: Women's Rights in UK-China Relations

Yan Yinan

TO: Qin Gang (秦刚)

FROM: Yan Yinan, Chinese Diplomat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

DATE: 20 March 2023

RE: Women's Rights in UK-China Relations

Summary

This memo examines women's rights in UK-China relations and recommends policy to the Chinese government. The UK and China have differing viewpoints on women's rights, which has caused tension in their relations.

Considering this, further collaboration on women's rights is required to help improve mutual understanding and trust between the two countries while promoting worldwide gender equality. Policy options include cooperative events, research, and the exchange of best practices. In addition, a bilateral working group on women's rights is advocated as a policy to facilitate continued communication and collaboration.

Background

The realisation of gender equality and the abolition of all forms of discrimination against women are fundamental human rights and United Nations values (Women's Rights are Human Rights, 2014). Also, empowered women can boost the health and productivity of entire communities and families and enhance the prospects of future generations, so gender equality is essential for development and poverty eradication (Unfpa.org, 2017).

However, despite substantial progress, such as introducing anti-domestic violence law and promoting gender equality in education in China and electoral reform in the UK, both countries still face challenges in achieving full gender equality. For example, the UK has been dealing with gender pay disparities, employment discrimination, and abuse against women (Great Britain. Home Office, 2019). On the other hand, China faces issues in female labour force employment, gender-based harassment, and a lack of resources and opportunities for rural women (UNFPA China, 2017).

The UK and China have committed to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls as part of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality) (UN Women, n.d.). Furthermore, the UK and China agreed to follow the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to promote women's equal rights (UN Women, 2016). With these shared commitments, there is an opportunity for expanded cooperation between the two countries on this crucial topic.

Policy Options

There are four policy options:

Organise joint events: The UK and China can organise conferences, symposiums, and seminars focusing on women's rights and gender equality. For example, the first Sino-British Symposium on Gender Equality, jointly organised by the All-China Women's Federation and the Office of Equality of the British Government, was held in London in 2017 (GOV.UK, n.d.a). These events can be platforms for exchanging ideas, experiences, and best practices, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation and raising awareness and visibility of women's rights and gender equality issues. However, organising events may be limited to participants and attendees, such as heads of women's institutions, experts, scholars, and representatives of entrepreneurs in China and the UK, which may not lead to a widespread impact (GOV.UK, n.d.a). Furthermore, short-term events may not address long-term challenges like gender equality effectively.

Share best practices: The UK and China can share best practices in promoting women's rights through embassies in both countries, such as policies to close the gender pay gap, measures to prevent gender-based violence, and projects to improve rural women's access to resources and opportunities. For instance, 22 UK and Chinese business executives, including those from PWC, Qyer, Thoughtworks, Lady Britannia, and Youyang, were gathered by the British Embassy in China in 2018 to exchange best practices for promoting gender equality in the workplace. (GOV.UK, n.d.b). This policy encourages both countries to learn from one another's experiences and triumphs in achieving gender equality. However, political, social, and economic differences may limit the implementation of some best practices.

Deepen bilateral cooperation and establish a Bilateral Working Group on women's rights: One of the pillars of comprehensive bilateral cooperation is the 2017 UK-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue (P2P), which includes women's rights as one of ten policy strands (GOV.UK, n.d.c). The Chinese government could establish a Bilateral Working Group based on this dialogue. The working group can consist of representatives from relevant government agencies, civil society organisations, and academic institutions from both countries. The group can facilitate ongoing dialogue, share information, and coordinate joint initiatives to promote women's rights and gender equality. This policy can also enhance mutual understanding and trust between the UK and China. However, implementing this policy requires commitment and resources from both countries' governments (Defty, 2017).

Policy Recommendation

The establishment of a bilateral working group on women's rights is preferable to the current policy and other policy options for several reasons: Firstly, a bilateral working group offers a more organised and ongoing platform for collaboration, in contrast to joint events and exchanging best practices, which are frequently dispersed and isolated.

This working group offers a more coordinated and practical approach to addressing women's rights and gender equality concerns by promoting cooperative research and events and sharing best practices. Furthermore, bilateral working groups can adjust to changing circumstances and growing difficulties. It can also aid in identifying new areas of cooperation and developing focused plans and initiatives relevant to the unique needs of women in the UK and China.

The intended outcomes of establishing a bilateral working group on women's rights include improving mutual understanding and trust between China and the UK on problems related to women's rights and gender equality and showcasing the United Kingdom and China's commitment to gender equality, reinforcing the global campaign to achieve SDG 5 (UN Women, n.d.).

Establishing a bilateral working group on women's rights benefits the UK, China, and the international community for the following reasons: First, cooperation on women's rights can strengthen UK-China diplomatic relations by building mutual understanding and trust.

Moreover, good UK-China diplomatic relations will allow the two countries to forge a more productive cooperative relationship on a broader range of topics to help maintain global peace and stability. Second, a robust bilateral working group can be a role model for other countries to emulate to promote global cooperation on women's rights and gender equality. Additionally, the UK and China's collaborative efforts can motivate other countries to act and contribute to the global fight for gender equality.

Sources: