His remarks come after the arrest and police brutality of a BBC journalist covering protests in Shanghai.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday night that the “golden age” of Britain-China relations was over, and called for a more pragmatic approach to the “systemic challenge” posed by Beijing following the arrest in Shanghai of a BBC reporter.
“Let’s be clear, the famous ‘golden age’ is over, as is the naïve idea that trade will automatically lead to political and social reform,” Rishi Sunak said, referring to the warming of Sino-British relations from 2015 during David Cameron.
In his first major foreign policy speech, delivered at the Guildhall, the palace in the City of London, the Prime Minister believed that China now represented “a systemic challenge to our values and our interests, a challenge that is becoming more and more obvious as the country moves towards even greater authoritarianism”.
“Instead of listening to the protests of its people, the Chinese government has chosen to crack down more, including by attacking a BBC journalist,” the prime minister condemned.
“The media and our parliamentarians must be able to highlight these issues without being sanctioned,” he insisted.
The incident only worsens already strained relations between Beijing and London amid strong criticism from the United Kingdom, particularly over China’s reclamation of Hong Kong and recent incidents on British soil.
But while the Prime Minister said he wanted to “evolve” Britain’s approach to the Asian country, he said we must not “ignore” “China’s place in world affairs”.