Europe’s China hawks circle and squawk

China’s relations with Europe are going from bad to worse almost by the day. United Kingdom-China relations are exhibit A of the downtrend, with London recently effectively banning Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network rollout.

The UK has also taken a hard line on China’s tightening grip on Hong Kong, sparking a war of words where Beijing has accused London of “brutal meddling” in its internal affairs and threatening to retract billions of dollars worth of investment and commitments from the UK.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab intensified the feud by accusing Beijing of “gross and egregious” rights abuses some have even characterized as genocide against its minority Uighur population, following in lockstep with US sanctions imposed on the issue.

China’s ambassador Liu Xiaoming denied the presence of concentration camps in China’s Xinjiang province in a BBC interview. Chinese state media has oscillated between asserting Britain wants to restore its empire to being a weak power trying to reprove itself. 

For many Europeans, the so-called “New Cold War” pitting the US and China was happening somewhere else, in the minds of “hawks” in Washington and apparatchiks in Beijing, or on the distant waves of the South China Sea or icy reaches of the China-India border. 

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