China News - 1 February 2021
Join us tomorrow at 10am for a session with Sherard Cowper-Coles of the China-Britain Business Council and HSBC. Register now to submit your questions early.
UK applying to join Asia-Pacific free trade pact CPTPP. The UK will officially apply to join a free trade area with 11 Asia and Pacific nations today. The British government hopes US president Joe Biden will also join the group, opening a backdoor to closer UK-US trade ties. Reuters reports that the government will publish an economic assessment after its formal accession request. Reuters, FT, Liz Truss op-ed in The Telegraph, 31 January
Former White House official Evan Medeiros welcomed the UK’s move to CPTPP during our event last month, calling it a ‘smart, strategic move’. But there has also been speculation about China looking to join the CPTPP.
Ministers move to stop backbench revolt over UK courts' role in genocide rulings. The trade bill and genocide amendment is set to return to the Lords this week and the Commons the week after. A new revised amendment protecting parliamentary sovereignty over trade bills while allowing UK courts to rule on genocide will almost certainly pass in the Lords. In order to stave off another Commons rebellion, the government is said to be proposing to hand new powers to the foreign affairs select committee in lieu of court-adjudged proceedings. The Guardian, The Telegraph, 31 January
Britain says China has damaged trust in global trade system. Trade minister Liz Truss, made the comments at a WEF online panel event. “Some of the behaviour by China on areas like forced technology transfer, subsidies by state-owned enterprises, and also IP (Intellectual Property) violations have led to some of the mistrust in the global trading system,” she said. Reuters, 31 January
A China with clout awaits Biden at the WTO. Largely a bystander when it joined 20 years ago, China is now the world’s most active participant in disputes at the organisation. WSJ, 1 February
Myanmar coup: US and China divided in response to army takeover. Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines on Monday largely followed China by insisting the issue was internal to Myanmar. The Guardian, 1 February
Hong Kong BNO visa launches on Sunday. The move was widely welcomed by MPs from across the house. The Guardian reports migration agents seeing a surge of interest in Hong Kong. The Guardian, BBC, FT, 31 January
Companies consider writing Hong Kong out of legal contracts. The FT reports a surge in queries to lawyers over whether to write Hong Kong out of governing law and arbitration clauses. FT, 30 January
Foreign Office security vetting will target China academics ‘likely to spy’. UK universities have been told that the FCDO will introduce security vetting for overseas academics and researchers wanting to study or work in fields relating to national security. The Times, 30 January
Coronavirus: Germany open to Chinese and Russian vaccines amid delays. Health Minister Jens Spahn says there is no obstacle to the use of the Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines if they receive EU approval. Hungary has become the first to approve the vaccine. DW, 31 January
Taiwan says Chinese warplanes, US aircraft entered its air defence zone on Sunday. SCMP, 1 February
WHO team visits Wuhan market where Covid-19 first detected. The Guardian, 31 January
New Chinese schools will fund UK bursaries, says Benenden. IE Today, 1 February
China’s strategy in Africa ‘isn’t always working’, Biden UN nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield tells senators. SCMP, 31 January
Economy & tech
China gene firm BGI providing worldwide Covid-19 tests worked with Chinese military. BGI Group, the world’s largest genomics company, has worked with China’s military on research that ranges from mass testing for respiratory pathogens to brain science, a Reuters review of research, patent filings and other documents has found. Reuters, 30 January
BGI is a key investor in leading UK genomics scale-up Congenica, having entered into a strategic investment partnership in April 2017. Congenica works closely with the NHS on its Genomic Medicine Service.
Xiaomi sues U.S. to overturn Chinese military designation and share investment ban. CNBC, 1 February
Worker deaths put Big Tech in China under scrutiny. NYT, 1 February
Longer reads & opinion
HSBC must show moral backbone over China. Edward Lucas in The Times, 1 February
The UK’s incoherent China strategy. The sanctions decision exemplifies the lack of direction, writes David Green in World Politics Review, 31 January
Into The Grey Zone: China and Russia cyber threats can't be lumped together like 'Chas & Dave'. Former NCSC chief Ciaran Martin on the Sky News podcast.
‘Getting tough' on China makes headlines, but abroad nobody cares what Johnson says. A provocative take from Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, 30 January
Long read: Nuclear winter for Britain as power plants close. The collapse of several nuclear projects and seeming unviability of Chinese-backed power plants leaves Britain’s nuclear future looking precarious. The Times, 31 January
The week ahead
Liz Truss speaks with ministers from Japan and India in order to formally apply to join CPTPP. China launches national carbon trading. China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi on Monday addresses a virtual meeting of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.
Commons: At 2:30pm, oral questions on Defence in the Commons.
Committee action: At 10am, committee hearing on arms export controls. At 2:30pm, the Foreign Affairs Committee hears evidence on the UK’s role in multilateral organisations, including from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon. Also at 2:30pm, the Defence Committee hears evidence on NATO, US and UK defence relations.
Trade bill returns to the Lords, where the revised genocide amendment is expected to pass.
Committee action: At 9:30am, the Science and Technology committee hears evidence on the UK’s role in disease outbreaks. At 2:30pm, the International Trade committee hears evidence on UK trade negotiations.