Tory peer William Hague outlines ‘immediate’ action to tackle Beijing after COVID-19 chaos

Speaking to Policy Exchange UK, the Tory peer claimed the coronavirus crisis has made even more the case for western democracies to stop hoping China will play by their rules and to re-think future relation with the communist regime. Lord Hague claimed the UK can no longer be dependent on Beijing and will have to implement new post-coronavirus policies to deal with China – starting from technology. 

He said: “There are some immediate implications about China policy of the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s very important for the consumption and trade of wildlife to end in China and the rest of the world, unless we want to see this repeated many times in the future.

“It’s very important for data to be shared fully when a worldwide pandemic arrives. These are obvious and immediate implications although they have to be acted on further.

“But in my view this crisis reinforces the case for two major pillars to be established for western policies towards China.”

He explained: “The first rises from the fact that China isn’t going to play by our rules.

“And that means that we cannot possibly be strategically dependent on China.

“In many respects including on technology.”

He added: “The other important pillar arises from the fact that we can’t solve global problems without China and global problems are some of our most pressing and obviously most existential.

“And the COVID-19 crisis is an example of a dramatic world crisis.”

Echoing Lord Hague’s comments, Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said China is trying to exploit the global crisis triggered by the novel coronavirus outbreak by wresting control of companies such as Imagination Technologies and changing the way the internet works.

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The Foreign Affairs Select Committee told Sky News:”We’re seeing quite a lot of action by the Chinese state, or state-owned companies, that seem to be exploiting this moment.

“Companies like Imagination Technologies… it’s been facing a rather hostile change in management in the last few weeks, which happened to coincide not just with the COVID crisis but also the prime minister being taken into hospital and the Easter weekend.”

Mr Tugendhat also said he was concerned by Donald Trump’s decision to suspend funding for the World Health Organisation.

“I’m concerned by this,” he said. “This is, of course, an important time for the WHO to be doing its job.”

“I understand his concerns with the way that the WHO has failed to call out China or indeed recognise the success that has been going on in Taiwan amongst other places.”

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It comes as China urged the United States on Wednesday to fulfil its obligations to the World Health Organization (WHO), after US President Donald Trump halted funding to the body over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked at a regular daily briefing whether China would step in to fill the shortfall, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was noncommittal.

“China will look into relevant issues according to the needs of the situation,” he said.

The United States is the biggest overall donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15 percent of its budget.

Zhao said the pandemic, which has infected nearly 2 million people globally, was at a critical stage and that Washington’s decision would affect all countries of the world.

“This decision weakens the WHO’s capability and harms international cooperation in guarding against the epidemic.

Every country in the world is affected, including the US and especially those with fragile capacities,” he said, “We urge the US to earnestly fulfil its duties and obligations.”

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