WATCH: Government still has “no clear strategy” on China, says Labour

Lisa Nandy has said that the government still has “no clear strategy” when it comes to the UK’s engagement with China, and declared that “national security has been an afterthought over the last decade”.

In an interview with BBC News this afternoon, the Shadow Foreign Secretary discussed the government’s announcement today that it would be barring the Chinese company Huawei from the country’s 5G network infrastructure.

She said that the government had only U-turned on the issue because the US had applied trade sanctions to China, and warned that the UK must not “hand over our national security to China or to the US”.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Nandy said: “The UK is caught in a trade war between the US and China. What changed the government’s mind today is the fact that the US has applied sanctions to China.”

She added: “The answer to that is not simply to hand over our national security to China or to the US… The answer to that is for Britain to have our own home-grown technology and to work with other democratic countries.”

The Shadow Foreign Secretary told viewers that the Labour Party had been pushing for the government to work with other countries over the past few months, but that it had failed to do so.

She said: “Still, there is no clear strategy in relation to our engagement with China, no clear strategy about home-grown alternatives, no clear strategy about working with our democratic allies across the world.”

Nandy described the government approach as a “nonsense” when asked about the involvement of China in other infrastructure projects across the UK, such as the nuclear power project in Bradwell.

She said: “There is no consistent approach across government departments… The government is considering handing over technology that is involved in our nuclear industry – even as they are seeking to ban them from the 5G network.”

Earlier today, Labour slammed the government for its approach to national security following the announcement of the U-turn on Huawei, saying that it had been “incomprehensibly negligent”.

The Secretary of State had used a statement in the Commons today to announce that mobile providers must remove 5G kit supplied by the Chinese company by 2027, which represents a major U-turn in government policy.

The party has also criticised the government for what it described as a “deeply confused” relationship with China. Nandy warned that the UK had been “going after China for its investment without regard to the consequences for national security”.

More from LabourList