China vs UK: Cold war fears – Could UK and China tensions trigger Cold War?

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson today said he would be “tough” with China as the Government prepared to change extradition arrangements with Hong Kong. This comes after a move from the Government to remove Huawei 5G from the UK by 2027.

Further measures will be set out on Monday in response to China’s imposition of a tough new national security law on Hong Kong amid growing tensions with Beijing.

The UK is expected to follow the example of the US, Canada and Australia and suspend an extradition treaty with Hong Kong due to the impact of the security law on the territory.

This move may further anger Beijing, with frustrations already high over the Government’s decision last week to exclude the tech giant Huawei from the UK’s 5G network – reversing a decision in January allowing it a limited role.

Other key points of contention include unrest in Hong Kong and growing military tensions in the South China Sea, with the Royal Navy discussing sending aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the region next year.

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Mr Johnson today said he will not be “pushed into becoming a knee jerk Sinophobe” as he warned Britain cannot “completely abandon” its relationship with China.

The PM said the UK does have “serious concerns” about China’s behaviour on issues like human rights abuses and Hong Kong.

However, he said China is “going to be a giant factor in our lives, in the lives of our children and our grandchildren” and as a result, Britain must adopt a “calibrated response”.

Mr Johnson explained this means being “tough on some things” while also continuing to engage on others.

Could UK and China tensions trigger a Cold War?

No cold war has been declared, however in a high-tension interview with the BBC on Sunday, Ambassador of China to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming condemned Britain for “dancing to the tune” of the US.

He also accused Western countries of trying to provoke a “new cold war” with China.

He said: “People say China is becoming very aggressive. That’s totally wrong.

“It’s Western countries, headed by United States, they started this… new Cold War on China.

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“We do not provoke but once provoked we have to make a response.”

Mr Liu rejected accusations of widespread abuses against the mainly-Muslim Uighur people, alleging “so-called Western intelligence” is making “false allegations” against China.

He suggested video footage, said to be from Xinjiang, showing men, kneeling and blindfolded waiting to be led onto trains by police officers was “fake”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is due to make a Commons statement today on Hong Kong, where Beijing has imposed a new security law.

What is a Cold War?

Cold Wars are times of political hostility between countries which stop short of involving warfare.

These can include threats, propaganda and other measures in a tit for tat exchange.

The most famous example is the Cold War from 1945 to 1990, which was between Soviet bloc – USSR – countries and the United States and their respective allies.

Dubbed The Cold War, there were no large-scale battles or fighting directly between the two superpowers, but each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars.

The Cold War began after World War 2 when the US established the NATO military alliance in 1949.

NATO was created with the apprehension of a Soviet attack and termed their global policy against Soviet influence containment.

Cold wars are also seen in economic and political actions – such as sanctions on one another – propaganda and acts of espionage.

Opponents in a cold war will sometimes give support either economically or in military aid, such as weapons, tactical support or military advisors, to lesser nations who are embroiled in conflicts with the opposing country.

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