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Liberal Democrats

F40: China: A Strategy for the UK

Submitted by: 10 members.
Mover: George Cunningham.
Summation: Layla Moran MP (Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development).

Conference notes:

  1. China's rise since the 1980s has been remarkable, raising millions of its citizens out of poverty, with the country expected to be the world's largest economy in nominal GDP within the next decade.
  2. President Xi's decade-long leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increasingly transformed China into a political and economic systemic rival to the current world order, including by:
    1. Its challenges to the international liberal order, such as at the UN Human Rights Council.
    2. Its human rights abuses, as noted in Conference motions Hong Kong's Future and The Uyghur Genocide.
    3. Its aggressive posturing towards Taiwan.
    4. Its friendship 'without limits' with Russia.
    5. Its military and nuclear weapons build-up, including in the South China Sea where it is in breach of international law.
    6. Its surveillance technology, which is used for suppression in China and is exported to prop up other regimes.
    7. Its concerted campaign to interfere in civic debate in western countries.
  3. In 2021, the UK's trade deficit with China more than tripled to £40.5 billion, creating a trade over-dependency on China.

Conference believes that:

  1. The UK must always stand on the side of democracy, human rights, international law and multilateralism.
  2. The UK needs to reduce its economic dependency on China, given the CCP's increasingly arbitrary decisions, coercion tactics, and human rights abuses.
  3. However, China's significance on the world stage means that the UK must continue to engage with China especially on global issues such as climate change, biodiversity, health and nuclear non-proliferation, while pushing back wherever our values and the security of our citizens are threatened.

Conference calls on the UK Government to:

  1. Issue a comprehensive China Strategy, which places human rights, effective rules-based multilateralism, and working with our European partners, centre stage.
  2. Develop an Industrial Strategy, enabling UK companies to be more competitive and self-reliant.
  3. Make the UK economy more resilient by:
    1. Reviewing preferential UK market access agreements with China.
    2. Strengthening foreign direct investment screening and cyber defences, including increased data transparency requirements.
    3. Encouraging greater diversification of UK trade, investment and supply chains, in particular with other democracies.
    4. Ceasing research cooperation on technology with China, its companies and researchers if adequate reciprocity and transparency cannot be achieved.
    5. Using sanctions when considered necessary.
  4. Strengthen the UK's National Security Bill, by making the protection of our open society a priority.
  5. Work, especially within the Commonwealth and Africa, to partner in development needs more effectively, flexibly and competitively than China, including restoring the UK's international development budget.
  6. Take further action on Hong Kong by:
    1. Auditing UK-based assets owned by the CCP, state-owned enterprises and Hong Kong officials.
    2. Assessing whether Hong Kong's autonomous status should be revoked.
    3. Reviewing bilateral Foreign Direct Investment with Hong Kong;
    4. Using Magnitsky sanctions against those responsible for the erosion of Hong Kong's freedoms.

Conference further calls on Liberal Democrats to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Uyghurs, Tibetans and all others who are being oppressed, discriminated against or undermined by the CCP, and to also:

  1. Continue to fight for BN(O) passport holders' rights, welcoming Hong Kongers to the UK.
  2. Stand against rising anti-Asian hate crimes in the UK, including by:
    1. Campaigning for further provision of resources and training to allow law enforcement to identify and prevent them.
    2. Condemning inflammatory rhetoric by those with public platforms.
  3. Develop even stronger links with our sister party in Taiwan, the DPP.

Applicability: Federal.

Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9 of the agenda.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00 Monday 5 September, see page 12 of the agenda. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Tuesday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 on Monday 19 September, see pages 8-9 of the agenda.