Daily Mail

Sunak faces his China hawks

- From Political Editor in San Diego

RISHI Sunak is set to take on the China hawks in his own party as he sets out plans for dealing with the ‘epoch-defining challenge’ posed by Beijing.

Speaking ahead of the publicatio­n today of the Integrated Review (IR) of foreign and defence policy, the Prime Minister said the UK would take a ‘robust’ approach to China’s communist regime. But, in comments likely to be seized on by critics in his own party, he rowed back on a previous warning that Beijing was now the UK’s ‘largest threat’.

Mr Sunak said the UK needed a

‘ smart and sophistica­ted’ approach to China, rather than simply treating it as a threat.

He also said it was right to ‘engage’ with Beijing on issues such as economic stability and climate change. During the Tory leadership contest last summer, Mr Sunak described the country, led by president Xi Jinping, pictured, as ‘the largest threat to Britain and the world’s security this century’.

But speaking yesterday, the PM declined to repeat his comments. He said: ‘China presents an epoch-defining challenge to us.

It’s a regime that is increasing­ly authoritar­ian at home and assertive abroad and has a desire to reshape the world order. ‘What I would say is, I don’t think it’s smart or sophistica­ted foreign policy to reduce our relationsh­ip with China. In the IR you will see a thoughtful and detailed approach.’

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