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China: Countering Threats

Volume 718: debated on Monday 18 July 2022

6. What steps his Department plans to take to counter threats originating in China in the context of the 2022 NATO Strategic Concept and joint address from the heads of MI5 and the FBI. (901118)

I hope you will indulge me, Mr Speaker, as I recognise my counterpart Volodymyr Havrylov, the Ukrainian deputy Defence Minister, who joined us in the UK this week as we went to see the Ukrainian troops and sailors in training.

The Ministry of Defence and the whole of Government are taking active steps to counter state threats from China. In line with the NATO strategic concept, we are working with allies to increase our shared understanding and to protect against China’s coercive tactics. Together with other Departments, we have strengthened investment screening, the academic technology approval scheme and our export control regimes.

The director general of MI5 has said:

“The most game-changing challenge we face comes from the Chinese Communist Party.”

At the last count, the UK Foreign Office had some 63 Mandarin speakers. Can the Minister tell us how many the Ministry of Defence has?

Does my hon. Friend agree that the emerging threats from China show NATO was right to make cyber and space among the key frontiers, along with the traditional three, and that, when looking at defence procurement and how money is spent, we are world leading in these vital areas of defence?

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend, but we should not think that our competition with China is exclusively concentrated on the high-end warfighting capabilities that may or may not be required in the first and second island chains. Every single week, we compete with China for influence around the world. Maintaining the defence effort across the global south to protect our interests around the Commonwealth is every bit as important as preparing to stand alongside the US in anything that might happen in the Pacific.