WATCH: Preet Gill accuses government of having “no clear strategy” on China

Katie Neame

Labour’s Preet Gill has accused the government of having “no clear strategy” on China and declared that Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have a record of “chronic inconsistency” towards the country.

Speaking to Sky News this morning, the Shadow International Development Secretary said: “The issue we have is that we’ve got a government that is very divided on how to actually approach China. It’s got no clear strategy. And both Liz and Rishi have actually had a record of chronic inconsistency I would say around China.

“So we’ve got to absolutely be clear, we’ve got to be working with China, we know that it’s important in terms of trade. But we’ve got to also support Taiwan because on issues of global health it is absolutely right it has a seat on the table in terms of the WHO and other institutions.”

On Labour’s approach to China, Gill said: “What we have said is that we will take a strategic approach to China in terms of standing firm on our principles and interests and managing the differences that we have.”

The Labour frontbencher added: “We recognise that of course we’ve got to do trade with China, we’ve got to work on the big issues of climate, of global health. We just can’t do it alone without their support, so I think that’s important.”

Asked whether she welcomed US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week, Gill said: “Pelosi’s decision to go and visit was a decision of hers, and of course she said this was about solidarity, and we’ve seen the response from China being quite significant.

“I think we all want to see dialogue really, we want to see peaceful moves to address the issues across the Taiwan Strait. We’ve been very clear about our serious concerns with China’s increasingly aggressive action towards Taiwan and the attempts to intimidate its democratic leaders.”

Asked whether she was concerned about the fallout from Pelosi’s visit, Gill said: “Let’s wait and see. I mean, it is early days. I think the Chinese also want to reach out and hopefully engage in some form of talks. I think that this can be the opportunity to start to see if that is very possible. But let’s wait and see.”

Pelosi is the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years. She met with leaders in the capital Taipei as part of a wider tour of Asia.

The visit was condemned by China, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accusing the US of “violating China’s sovereignty under the guise of so-called democracy”. He declared: “Those who play with fire will not come to a good end and those who offend China will be punished.”

China has begun its largest-ever military exercises in the seas around Taiwan following Pelosi’s visit, with live fire drills beginning at 12pm local time.

In a statement following the visit, Pelosi declared that China cannot “prevent world leaders or anyone from traveling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing democracy, to highlight its many successes and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration”.

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