Less than 40 days until Brexit. The UK government said it will become a global trading nation after cutting ties with the EU.
But after the UK leaves the EU bloc, and if it happens on time, will the UK be weaker when raising human rights with China?
Experts have long held concerns over Huawei’s technology infiltrating the UK and Chinese-state backed Confucius Institutes.
Then, there’s the regime’s disturbing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims.
“We’re leaving a bloc of nations that could speak with the strength of 27 member states,” said Ben Rogers, vice chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission. “So if we could align ourselves with the United States, Canada, Australia, and indeed still with the EU countries, and speak out together with them, that would be very important.”
“One world leader who has consistently spoken out about human rights in China, and yet continues to do good deals with China is Germany’s Angela Merkel, and she’s proven that it’s possible to do both,” he said.
That stance, to speak out about human rights in China, is shared by Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon. A Brexit supporter, Shannon said the UK’s economic ties with China will grow stronger after Brexit.
“We also need to remind them very forcefully, in a good way, of their obligations when it comes to human rights,” he said. “We do hope that China will take note of those things.”
Last December, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered a review into the plight of persecuted Christians and religious minorities around the world.
“We have a commitment from the minister to have human rights and persecution issues up at the top of the agenda. Things have changed,” he said.
Beijing is funding one-third of the costs of building a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in southern England.
Geraint Davies, Labour MP for Swansea West said the deal negotiated with Hinkley point was unevenly balanced.
“Firstly be removing ourselves from the EU, the EU is weaker, and obviously we’re weaker alone, so the balance of power will shift very much in favour of powers like China, and people need to be clear about whether that’s what they want,” said Davies, who is calling for a second referendum.
“This Chinese discussion is part of a wider discussion around Brexit, but it is crucially important for Britain’s future,” he said.