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Cleverly speech on China ‘a limited but important' step towards sanity’, expert argues

FOREIGN Secretary James Cleverly’s speech on Britain-China relations marks a “limited but nonetheless important move ... to return to a more sane policy,” Friends of Socialist China’s Carlos Martinez said today.

Mr Cleverly delivered a speech on Tuesday evening warning against a new cold war and insisting: “No significant global problem — from climate change to pandemic prevention, from economic stability to nuclear proliferation — can be solved without China.”

The speech was seen as a bid to distance the government from advocates on the Tory back benches of economic “decoupling” from the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

But the Foreign Secretary condemned China’s fortification of military bases in the South China Sea, rhetorically asking: “What is it all for?” without mentioning the huge build-up of a US and allied — including British — naval presence along its coasts.

“Cleverly issues a reasonably stern rebuke to the China hawks in his own party (and indeed the opposition) by stating clearly that he doesn't want a new cold war,” Mr Martinez told the Morning Star.

But he cautioned that “these useful comments are couched in the usual red-scare tropes about China’s ‘ruthless authoritarianism’, human rights in Xinjiang, and so on. On the one hand, Cleverly claims not to want a cold war; on the other hand, he stupidly parrots all the propaganda that supports and justifies that cold war.”

Mr Martinez noted that the speech formed part of a “developing trend of European countries seeking to distance themselves from the US’s anti-China strategy,” but did not go so far in this direction as French President Emmanuel Macron had done in calling for an independent European approach to China on a recent visit to the country.

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