Business Insider: The WHO must invite Taiwan to the World Health Assembly to convince the world it isn’t beholden to China

This article was first published in Business Insider.

This piece was also re-published by Yahoo News.

Starting May 24 in Geneva, Switzerland, representatives from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 194 member states will meet for the 74th World Health Assembly (WHA). The annual WHA gatherings grant those countries their chance to have a say in the WHO’s policy direction, how its budget is spent, and who its next leaders will be. In the midst of a global health crisis, these decisions are even more important.

But since 2016, one nation has been conspicuously absent from these critical proceedings. Taiwan was invited to the WHA as an ‘observer’ in 2008, but after a period of intense lobbying from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Taiwan’s observer status was rescinded eight years later.

Last year, a group of countries skeptical of the undue influence wielded by Beijing banded together to call for change. They formed a US-led coalition to call for Taiwan’s reinstatement to the WHA. Yet their complaints amounted to nothing after they agreed that it was best to set aside such an inconvenient, divisive issue and focus instead on the more urgent matter of coordinating efforts to prevent deaths from coronavirus.

Despite their efforts, since the 73rd WHA concluded on May 19, 2020, COVID-19 has infected a further 153 million people and claimed almost three million more lives.

Besides its apparent pandemic failures, the WHO has consistently come under intense scrutiny in the past year for its links to the dictatorial, genocidal Chinese government. Questions will be asked for years to come about the decisions made in the first weeks and months of the pandemic and how many lives might have been saved if the WHO had acted more quickly or decisively, especially when doing so might have been against Beijing’s wishes.

If the WHO wants to begin to scrape back its legitimacy and convince the world it isn’t beholden to China, it should begin by inviting Taiwan to the WHA.

The WHO’s discrimination against Taiwan is not a new problem

In the context of the WHO’s close relationship with the CCP, its exclusion of Taiwan, otherwise known as the Republic of China, is hardly surprising. Much like in Hong Kong, the CCP has a habit of laying claim to nearby dissident populations, attempting to bring them under its control and declare them part of Chinese territory.

In reality, Taiwan has a strong claim that it ought to be considered free from President Xi’s government. You might even argue that Taipei is in fact home to the only legitimate Chinese government. In December 1949, following a brutal civil war in China in which millions died, the government of the Republic of China fled to the island of Taiwan. With Joseph Stalin’s support, Mao Zedong’s Communist Party formed the People’s Republic of China while the original Republic of China stayed in Taiwan, where it remains to this day.

It took several decades, but with the gradual acquiescence of international governance bodies like the United Nations and the WHO, the CCP has won near-total recognition from other countries, even in the wake of appalling atrocities like sweeping authoritarianism in Hong Kong and the ongoing Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang.

The result is that Taiwan and its 24 million inhabitants go without representation in important international matters like the World Health Assembly. In addition to everything else, Taiwan would probably have a great deal of useful insight to contribute to that summit if it were allowed to participate. As of April 2021, it had suffered a grand total of just 12 coronavirus-related deaths.

China’s immense influence

Much like last year, a few countries have once again coalesced to call for Taiwan’s readmission to the WHA, seemingly to Beijing’s fury. But even when the WHO and its members have been making all the right noises in public in the past, as soon as standing up to China becomes too costly or inconvenient, the rights of smaller countries like Taiwan have been quickly forgotten. This year must be different.

But given the WHO’s history on this issue, it may continue on the path of least resistance and keep its paymasters and political betters in Beijing happy, daring them to do more and go further to test the limits of the level of evil the rest of the world is willing to turn a blind eye to. After all, if a genocide isn’t enough to trigger a reckoning in how we treat China, perhaps nothing is.

On the off chance that the WHO was, in fact, troubled by the now widespread perception that it is in thrall to the whims of the CCP, a good first step towards winning back the trust of its member states (and preventing repeats of Donald Trump’s withdrawal of funding last year) would be the recognition of Taiwan as more than just a part of China, which is clearly borne out in reality.

Express: After Covid disaster, surely the game’s up for the pitiable World Health Organisation

This article was first published in the Daily Express.

Since the first case of Covid was detected in Wuhan in December 2019, the coronavirus has infected over 130 million people across the world, killing almost 3 million. Many thousands of words have been written about the failures of local health authorities like Public Health England in preparing us for a pandemic, but perhaps the most important body of all has still not been properly held to account: the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Before 2020, most Brits probably didn’t know very much, if anything, about the WHO. It’s an arm of the United Nations, like the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organisation, spending most of its time working away in the background to safeguard against health emergencies, leaving the rest of us to get on with our lives. Except, of course, as we have now learned, the WHO was wilfully neglecting its duties and generally doing a terrible job, at enormous cost.

The WHO was wildly unprepared for the pandemic – with tragic consequences – because it spent much of its time playing politics rather than serving its purpose. It failed to do any of the things it should have done when the virus first broke out, even those as fundamental as being transparent about what was going on. It wasted valuable time before declaring a pandemic. It cosied up to China rather than tracing the origin of the virus. It issued actively harmful advice against masks.

Put simply, it is hard to imagine how a well-funded body charged with protecting people’s health could possibly have performed any worse. Even putting aside its appallingly close political relationship with the dictatorial, genocidal Chinese Communist Party, the WHO failed to perform its most basic function, tripping up at every hurdle. If the world had been better prepared, perhaps Covid would not have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions of people.

The WHO has form when it comes to mishandling epidemics. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and again during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, it came under widespread criticism.

One of the factors singled out as a cause of its mismanagement of these crises was its aversion to offending member states, in exactly the same way that it is now loath to offend China.

There’s no reason why these awful failures should be ‘the new normal’, so to speak. In the twentieth century, the WHO was effectively responsible for eradicating smallpox. But since then, things seem to have gone drastically downhill.

The WHO has patently failed to adequately address the scourge of anti-vaxxers leading to diseases like measles, which were all but eradicated, but which are now making a comeback around the world.

The WHO also received widespread criticism from animal conservation groups for recognising traditional Chinese medicine in its international guidelines after lobbying by Beijing, despite its role in driving the illegal trade and poaching of endangered species including pangolins and tigers — a trade that might ironically have contributed to the coronavirus’s outbreak in the first place.

The problems with the WHO run deep. It should not have taken a once-in-a-generation health disaster to expose them.

It’s time to ask some existential and probing questions. What is the WHO? What is it for? Where are its vast funds coming from? At the moment, it is trying to pretend it is both a humble, do-gooder charity which just has our best interests at heart and an all-powerful supranational organisation. It wants to be the undisputed centre of power for healthcare around the world, but without ever being held accountable for its actions. If the WHO is a charity, it should not be playing politics and cosying up to dictatorial regimes. If it’s not a charity, it must be subject to proper democratic oversight.

The WHO has not expressed any hint of remorse over its failures. There is no reason to think it is going to voluntarily change the way it operates. It’s high time for the rest of us to stand up to it and demand some answers.

Washington Examiner: Britain must grant refugee status to Uyghur Muslims

This article was first published in the Washington Examiner.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his ministers have offered aid to residents of Hong Kong, but the Uyghurs are being ignored.

It is now undeniable that the Chinese government is conducting a genocide in its northwestern Xinjiang province. At least 2 million are or have been incarcerated in a vast network of concentration camps. The harrowing testimonies of former detainees and guards detail starvation, systematic rape, torture, forced sterilization, and mass execution.

But even after both the Trump and Biden administrations stepped forward and declared that a genocide is taking place, the British government has refrained from showing the same moral leadership. This acquiescence of human rights has occurred despite a sustained campaign from prominent activists and opposition politicians. Johnson and his ministers also remain resolutely opposed to the legislative route to better holding Beijing to account. For some time now, the government has maintained a circular logic when it comes to legal declarations of genocide: It knows that China will never agree to be heard by an international court, but it insists that only an international court can judge it guilty of genocide.

Activists both within and outside of Parliament have responded by tabling the so-called “genocide amendment” to the government’s Trade Bill. This would solve the problem by empowering the English High Court to make the determination of genocide instead. But the government has repeatedly sought to quash the amendment. At one point, when members of Parliament looked ready to endorse the amendment, the government resorted to an arcane parliamentary procedure (and a touch of bullying) to block the vote. This triggered fury on both sides of the House of Commons.

For whatever reason, likely the fear of Chinese economic retaliation, the government is willing to abandon what should be sacred British principles of justice. But surely, Johnson cannot oppose the basic humanitarian step of recognizing the plight of Beijing’s victims and offering them a path to safety?

Allowing victims of appalling violence and persecution to seek refuge would be the least that a democratic nation like Britain could do. The government belatedly did something similar for residents of Hong Kong, who have also experienced the sharp end of the Chinese Communist Party’s instincts in recent months. A new visa route was opened, offering Hong Kong-based holders of a British National Overseas passport an expedited route to becoming citizens. The scheme has already seen considerable success, with the government at one point granting five passports a minute to Hongkongers.

The move to offer 3 million residents of Hong Kong an escape route was welcome. Still, we implore the government to extend its hand to the Uyghurs, who are also in need of urgent aid. As the Chinese government takes new steps with each passing week to tighten its comprehensive assault on the Uyghur people, such as receiving deported Uyghur dissidents from other countries, the situation is becoming exponentially more pressing.

A sense of urgency should also sustain in our deliberations. Given Xi Jinping’s staunch refusal to allow foreign experts and investigators into Xinjiang to corroborate its blanket denials of any wrongdoing, we will probably not know the true extent of its ethnic cleansing until it is much too late to do anything about it. In turn, it is infinitely better to risk offering refuge to a few more people than need it than to abandon an entire population to be tortured and killed at the hands of a brutal dictatorial regime.

Having traded with China for decades and contributed to its enormous wealth and political power (and turned a blind eye to its various human rights violations over the years), Britain owes a great debt to the victims of its atrocities. It’s time to start paying back.

Business Insider: Because of its colonial past, the UK has a duty to help residents of Hong Kong

This article was first published in Business Insider.

In 2019, the government of Hong Kong proposed a bill that allowed the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for trial. The bill set off months of protests, and eventually the Chinese government responded with a stricter measure that allowed for arrests of anyone in Hong Kong who voiced political dissent. 

In doing so, the Hong Kong and Chinese governments effectively ended the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, and subjected Hong Kong’s residents to the dictatorial rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

The sweeping national security law paved the way for a fascistic crackdown, with several high-profile pro-democracy figures arrested. Now, with every week that passes, there is a new, tragic case of a brave soul speaking out against Beijing and finding themselves locked away.

One recent example is radio DJ Edmund Wan Yiu-sing. “Giggs”, as he is better known, is charged with four counts of “doing an act with a seditious intention”. In other words, the Chinese government believes that Wan used his media platform to stir hatred and contempt against the authorities – although it has not offered any details of what “seditious” things he is alleged to have said.

Wan’s case is notable for a troubling reason. He was not charged under the national security law, or any other hurried new legislation from the last couple of years designed to quash brewing unease among pro-democracy activists. Instead, he was charged under the Crimes Ordinance, which has not been amended since 1972, when Hong Kong was still under British colonial rule. For a first offence on this charge, Wan could end up with a fine of HK$5,000 and two years in jail.

Last year, a group of British members of Parliament – all members of the governing Conservative Party – formed the China Research Group to campaign on issues relating to Hong Kong, and other China-adjacent areas of foreign policy. While their efforts have been admirable in drawing attention to China’s atrocities and forcing the government’s hand on matters of diplomacy, there has so far been a lack of appreciation of the role Britain has played in laying the foundations in Hong Kong for the oppression we are seeing today.

Imperial remnants

The Wan case is not the first time colonial-era British laws have been used to malicious ends by the CCP-controlled Hong Kong government. For instance, in April of last year, in an extraordinary indication of the disdain the ruling regime feels for those who speak out against it, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam doubled down on a ban on face masks which had been introduced in October of the previous year.

Lam even went to court to defend her right to prevent dissenters from covering their faces, despite the raging coronavirus pandemic, thanks to another colonial-era British law. The law in question – the Emergency Regulations Ordinance – was introduced in 1922 to combat strikes by Chinese fishermen who were protesting against their pitiful wages. It was passed in a single day with minimal scrutiny, and it remains on the statute book, with appalling consequences a century later.

Unlike the CCP’s genocidal campaign against the Uighur ethnic minority in the country’s Xinjiang province, where Beijing claims nothing of note is taking place, the Chinese Communist Party likes to draw the world’s attention to its deeds in Hong Kong. It is as if the CCP is taunting Britain, the region’s former ruler. For instance, it released a statement via state propaganda channels last July urging the UK to ‘abandon the illusion of continuing its colonial influence’ there.

So while the Chinese government makes out as though it is rescuing Hongkongers from the grip of its British imperial overlords by oppressing them and reneging on its international commitments, it is in fact making use of the legacy of British rule in Hong Kong for its own dictatorial purposes. This fact ought to be acknowledged in the UK, and it should inform the UK’s response to China’s aggression in the region.

Last month, after the governments of China and Hong Kong said that they would no longer recognize British National Overseas (BNO) passports as valid travel documents, the British government implemented a new visa scheme, granting Hong Kong residents a path to UK citizenship. This is a good start, but in light of the above, it plainly does not go far enough.

Hongkongers, through no fault of their own, are caught in the middle of a deeply unpleasant diplomatic divorce between the UK and China. They are stuck under the thumb of an abusive parent and it is Britain’s duty to do everything in its power to help them upend and relocate their lives to the UK, even if that means embracing radical ideas. Half-measures will not suffice. Britain is Hongkongers’ only safe refuge now – they must be made to feel welcome.

Politics.co.uk: UK should ‘set example’ by helping Uighurs

This article was co-written with Jaya Pathak and published on Politics.co.uk.

The Chinese Communist Party is committing an appalling genocide against the Uighur Muslims. A recent report from the BBC revealed the nature of the systematic rape and torture that residents of Xinjiang are subject to. This is more than just a human rights violation – this is an attempted ethnic cleansing, accompanied by the most heinous violence.

As we speak, more than 3 million Uighurs are being detained in concentration camps, with many subject to rape, forced labour, organ harvesting, torture, starvation and mass incarceration. The Chinese Communist Party is implementing a campaign of forced sterilisation, targeting at least 80% of Uighur women of childbearing age. It is also carrying out the removal of nearly 1 million children from their families. The children are being forcibly moved to state-controlled boarding schools where they are taught never to use their mother tongue and to abandon their religion.

The Chinese government shows no hint of repentance and no intention of stopping what it is doing any time soon.

While the nature of what the Chinese government is doing is clear-cut, the politics of how to respond is more complicated. Campaigners are currently on their third attempt to push through the so-called ‘genocide amendment’ to the trade bill, against sustained opposition  from the government. The result of this back-and-forth is that, in the government’s view, executive power over trade matters is safeguarded – but the Uighurs are no closer to safety.

Regardless of whether the government is opposed to the legislative route of confronting the Chinese Communist Party, it must take the humanitarian step of allowing victims of appalling violence and persecution to seek refuge in Britain by granting refugee status to the Uighurs.

Such a move would not be unprecedented. There is a strong patriotic tradition of Britain offering refuge to oppressed peoples throughout history. Take, for instance, the Kindertransport – a government mission to rescue thousands of endangered children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland shortly before the start of the Second World War.

More recently, Britain created  a new visa scheme for British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong, who have also been on the receiving end of some of the worst instincts of the dictatorial regime in Beijing. That system is now up and running  – it has already enjoyed considerable success, with Hong Kong residents signing up to it en masse. There is no compassionate reason why we should not now do the same – or more – for the Uighur Muslims.

Remarkably, no country has yet taken the step of offering a safe haven for Uighurs, apparently cowed into submission by Beijing’s soft power. Alongside its heinous domestic policy, the Chinese government is engaged in a concerted effort to expand its influence across Asia and Africa using, among other things, its homegrown covid vaccine. In the particularly disturbing case of Turkey, Chinese dissidents are reportedly being deported in exchange for extra vaccine doses.

Sentiment around extending an arm of friendship to the oppressed Uighur population is beginning to brew in some countries, but it remains in the very early stages and campaigners are having to push against the tide. In the US, president Biden has named the Uighurs as one of the groups set to be admitted under his new refugee program – but his recent comments, in which he appeared to dismiss China’s actions as ‘different cultural norms’, don’t exactly inspire hope.

We don’t have forever to pontificate over if and how we should act to help the Uighurs. The clock is ticking. With every day that passes without government action, more and more Uighurs are being detained, assaulted and oppressed.

There is a vacancy to lead an international coalition on this. The US is moving at a snail’s pace and the EU is too enthralled by trade relations with China to take any action. The British government should move to fill that gap, dispelling its newfound reputation for Beijing apologism and setting a humanitarian example for the rest of the world to follow by offering oppressed Uighurs a home in the UK.

Having traded with China for decades and contributed to its enormous wealth and power, we owe a debt to the victims of the Chinese government’s atrocities. We must offer them aid in their time of need.

Federalist: Why the United States should join the next giant global trade agreement

This article was first published in the Federalist.

British international trade secretary Liz Truss recently announced the United Kingdom will apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. To date, the United States is the only country in the world to have dissented from what is now the world’s largest trade bloc. For the sake of American prosperity, Joe Biden should seize the opportunity and push for the United States to join the new CPTPP also.

Just four days after his inauguration, then-President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive order withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the forerunner to the CPTPP. Trump described the trade pact as a “potential disaster for our country,” alleging that Barack Obama’s enthusiasm for it was foolish and that the pact would have sold out the American manufacturing industry.

Around the time of Trump’s withdrawal, there appeared to be a cross-party consensus against it, with even Hillary Clinton voicing opposition to the TPP despite her instrumental role in creating it. That stance set the United States apart from the rest of the world. Signatories already included Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and others.

While Trump’s “America first” mantra may have been powerful enough to suck in Democrats, the facts never bore it out. Joining the TPP would have bolstered the American working classes by opening them to enormous new — and fast-growing — markets in Asia, previously inaccessible because of tariffs and other trade barriers.

Empowering American Manufacturers

The price of American-produced poultry is today 40 percent more expensive because of tariffs, and American-made cars cost 59 percent more than they would otherwise.

The graver result of Trump’s embrace of protectionism is that American manufacturers can’t compete on a global level. Conversely, entering an international trade community in which those barriers don’t exist would wipe out those import taxes, providing American companies with billions of brand new, wealthy potential consumers.

American industry’s reach should not be confined to American borders. There is no reason American-based companies shouldn’t be competitive in Asia. Lowering trade barriers would open American industry to a whole new continent of eager customers, which is why signing up to the TPP would boost jobs and swell wages.

If only U.S. manufacturers operated to their full potential in these booming markets, Asian countries could easily be swimming in “Made in America” labels and funneling a thundering torrent of new money directly into the pockets of working-class Americans. Unfortunately for them, in 2016, it was off the table.

To Counter China, America Needs Trade Influence

Fast-forward to 2021 and Biden finds himself at a crossroads on America’s economic relationship with the rest of the world. As well as a vehicle for lighting a fire under economic growth to everyone’s benefit, the CPTPP is fast emerging as the Western world’s answer to the soft power of the Chinese Communist Party, which appears to have peaked. Even in the United Kingdom, which was supposed to be bogged down in post-Brexit trade isolation and is nowhere near the Pacific, the government seems elated to be a part of it.

Inconveniently for President Biden, however, the United States is now outside the club. If, indeed, the United States is to keep up with the rest of the world as it enters post-pandemic economic recovery, then Biden has a great deal of work to do to mend those relationships and rebuild American standing on the world stage.

Perhaps more importantly, the United States must be in a position of influence to retain its status as the undisputed leader of the global coalition to undermine the immense influence of the Chinese communist dictatorial regime.

Escaping From China’s Grasp

The current members of the CPTPP are soon to be joined by the United Kingdom, closely followed — if reports are to be believed — by South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Colombia, and even the European Union. Already, the CPTPP is becoming a who’s who of non-Chinese economic prowess.

Free trade has brought together this almighty smorgasbord of countries under a common banner, but China’s actions sealed the deal. 2020 was the year the world woke up to the terrifying extent of Beijing’s power. From the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong to the constant violation of Taiwanese sovereignty, from the genocide of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang to the catastrophic coronavirus coverup, it is now inescapably clear that the CCP’s actions have cost countless millions of lives.

Finally, the rest of the world is joining to construct an economic norm that is not reliant on China. How? By signing free trade agreements with each other, opening markets to one another, and pooling resources, the world escapes from under Beijing’s thumb.

It’s already working. Last May, Chinese state media reported the country was “sending a powerful signal” of its intention to join the CPTPP. The government statement said “China is willing to consider joining” the new trade bloc — even though they haven’t been invited. The CCP feels its grip on the world slipping away and is beginning to panic.

The CPTPP is a means to an end. The ultimate goal is maximizing free trade. On a quite fundamental level, all those who believe in the power of the free market to boost wages, create jobs, and lift people out of poverty en masse must now put all their weight behind building a new way of doing things, creating conditions in which we can trade with each other freely. That is true irrespective of the way China behaves.

Keeping Our Eyes On the Long Game

Last year’s pandemic brought home the urgency of abandoning protectionism in infinitely harrowing ways. Take, for instance, the tragic state of affairs in American hospitals at the beginning of the crisis, in March of last year.

Motivated by a desire to “reduce foreign dependency on medicines,” the Trump White House set out to relocate medical supply chains from abroad to within American borders. As well-intentioned as that might have been, during an earth-shattering health crisis it was myopic in the extreme.

Perhaps predictably, cutting the United States off from foreign suppliers of vital goods when demand for those goods was extremely high soon resulted in widespread domestic shortages. We live in a globalized world in which different countries specialize in making different things. The United States never had the momentum to build up the manufacturing capacity it would have needed to supply itself with ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health-care workers.

Short-sighted trade nationalism exacerbated an already disastrous situation. Building new supply chains from scratch is slow and costly at the best of times, let alone amid an unprecedented global pandemic. When American lives are on the line, it is difficult to justify insisting on only buying critical products from domestic manufacturers — even when the alternative is buying them from China.

Trump was far from the only world leader to make that mistake. Even President Emmanuel Macron of France, once the crown prince of globalism, at one point announced his intention to bring supply chains within national borders. The difference, though, is that Trump’s “America first” outlook predated the pandemic and was always founded on flimsy reasoning and a lack of empirical, proven reasoning to back it up.

For instance, Trump regularly pointed out the billion-dollar trade deficits the United States carried with other countries, citing this as evidence of foreign exploitation of American workers. That is simply not how trade works.

I have a substantial “trade deficit” with my local diner, but I keep going back there and spending more money. Why? Because I’m not oppressed simply because currency is exclusively flowing in one direction and (tasty) goods are exclusively flowing in the other. An economic relationship does not have to involve an equal amount of money traveling in each direction for it to be mutually beneficial.

For the sake of American workers, it’s high time to learn the lessons of recent years and reap the rewards of free trade. In the end, the free movement of goods benefits everyone.

CapX: British universities should not be peddling China’s soft power

This article was co-authored by human rights activist Benedict Rogers. It was first published on CapX.

If there was any doubt before now, the actions of the Chinese Communist Party in 2020 have shown that it stands in opposition to members of the international community seeking to promote liberty, democracy, and the protection of human rights. From the cover-up of vital data in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, to dismantling freedom in Hong Kong, threatening invasion of Taiwan, brazenly arresting journalists, and perpetrating a genocide of the Uighur Muslims, Beijing has placed itself firmly on the wrong side of the history.

As a result, democratic nations are now undoing decades of diplomacy and gradually disentangling their politics and economies from the CCP. US President-elect Joe Biden looks set to coordinate an international coalition of democracies to counter China – a more effective strategy than Trump’s trade war.

In the UK, Huawei is being entirely removed from the new 5G mobile network and the British government is seeking to shore up its reputation as a defender of human rights through a variety of diplomatic manoeuvres. The House of Commons narrowly rejected an amendment to the Trade Bill that would have allowed domestic courts to rule on whether the CCP is guilty of genocide in Xinjiang.

These moves away from cooperation and towards condemnation are becoming more urgent with each passing day. Recent document leaks have drawn attention to the hundreds of CCP members who have sworn oaths of loyalty to Beijing and are now working for the Chinese government in universities, defence and pharmaceutical companies, banks, and even British consulates. We are only just beginning to glimpse the tip of the iceberg of the ways in which the CCP wields its influence across the world.

There is one aspect of the CCP’s lurking presence in democratic countries that deserves our attention, now more than ever. Responding to the revelations surrounding US Representative Eric Swalwell’s connections to a suspected Chinese spy, Representative Liz Cheney called for democratic governments to shut down Confucius Institutes.

Confucius Institutes can be found at over 500 universities across six continents. Among them are 29 in the UK, including the Confucius Institute for Business London (CIBL) at LSE. At first glance, Confucius Institutes appear to be innocuous cultural associations, much like the British Council, the American Center or the Alliance Française – but delve a little deeper and a more sinister truth emerges.

Confucius Institutes are a project of Hanban, a division of the Chinese ministry of education. The CIBL calls itself “a partnership between LSE, Tsinghua University and Hanban”. It is part of a project run directly by the Chinese government, initiated by Hu Jintao, its last president, to accrue soft power. This is not a conspiracy theory – it is the stated aim of the initiative. Former senior leader of the CCP, Li Changchun, describes it as “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”.

Under a thin veil of teaching, Confucius Institutes have allowed Beijing to quietly infiltrate British academia. They act as vehicles for the CCP to spread its malign propaganda and compromise the integrity of the British higher education and research sectors. Reports from Human Rights Watch and the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission detail the ways in which Confucius Institutes directly undermine freedom of expression. Investigations from intelligence agencies in Canada, Belgium, and the US have reached the same conclusion.

Of course, on the face of it, the reason Confucius Institutes exist – teaching and cultural exchange – is worthwhile, and many of those Institutes engage in valuable activities. Issues arise when they begin acting beyond their remit, as seems to happen frequently. There are countless examples of western universities, especially in the UK and US, behaving in extraordinary ways as a result of pressure from the Chinese government, facilitated by Confucius Institutes. In 2014, a Portuguese conference had its program directly censored by Hanban because it mentioned Taiwanese academic institutions. The offending pages of the programs were physically torn out as the conference opened.

When China expert Isabel Hilton contributed to an academic journal for a conference, she found that an inconvenient section about the arrest of environmental activist Wu Lihong, who had previously exposed the endemic pollution of a water system relied on by two million people, had been removed by one of the sponsors – a Confucius Institute. The Dalai Lama has been blackballed from campus events countless times, and discussion of the so-called “three Ts” – Tiananmen, Tibet and Taiwan – is often designated as off-limits. The list goes on.

Around one in eight LSE students is domiciled in China. Research from LSE’s Professor Christopher Hughes found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that they were not best pleased about their home regime’s formal presence at LSE. It is a cruel irony to travel from China, a country known for its closely surveilled research environment, to Britain, one renowned for its academic freedom and prowess, only to find that the Chinese government is operating in exactly the same way on the campus of the British university.

No other country in the world has a propaganda outfit based in its education department, controlling hundreds of academic institutes in other countries. China’s motives are transparently harmful and its Confucius Institutes are a key weapon in its armoury. Why are British universities like LSE opening themselves up to direct influence from Beijing in this way, and training up the next generation of Chinese state propagandists in the process?

As we enter a micro-era of international politics which is sure to be defined by a recalibration of relations with China, now is the time for our academic institutions, like LSE, to renounce the Chinese Communist Party – despite its deep pockets – and show the world that they will not compromise their integrity for the sake of foreign dictatorships. Governments and universities have turned a blind eye for too long – both have a role to play in the urgent removal of Confucius Institutes from British soil.

Washington Times: China is trying to greenwash its environmental crimes

This article was first published in the Washington Times.

This article was co-written by Christopher Barnard, national policy director at the American Conservation Coalition.

Two issues will define the coming era of international relations and determine the direction of our politics for years. The first is the environment. Around the world, populations and their elected politicians are beginning to wake up to the reality and urgency of climate change. Young people across the political spectrum are pressuring politicians to act. For the first time ever, a constructive policy debate is forming as socialist plans like the Green New Deal go up against pro-market solutions like nuclear power, clean investment, and green innovation.

The second all-important issue is China. The Chinese Communist Party has never been a benevolent organization. But in the last year or so, its crimes have become so heinous that they have warranted an international response. China has a long track record of foisting itself on other countries, like Taiwan and Tibet. Recently, it has seized power and imposed draconian totalitarian measures in Hong Kong. It is carrying out a systematic genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Its refusal to cooperate with Western governments, combined with the undue influence it wields in international governing bodies like the World Health Organization, has cost tens of thousands of lives to date in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beijing knows exactly what it is doing. When it is not gaslighting Western governments by flat-out denying all wrongdoing — even when it has been caught red-handed on camera — the Chinese government is fortifying its position by churning out positive-sounding rhetoric on climate change. Just a few weeks ago, President Xi Jinping took the world by surprise when he announced his intention to make China a carbon-neutral country by 2060.

The Chinese Communist Party is trying to greenwash its crimes. Despite running by far the most environmentally destructive country in the world, it is shamelessly weaponizing very real concerns over climate change and using them to conceal its equally real malevolence.

“We call on all countries to pursue innovative, coordinated, green, and open development for all,” Mr. Xi told this year’s session of the U.N. General Assembly with a straight face, even though 40% of China’s energy investments through the Belt and Road Initiative are in coal, and 72% of all new coal plants around the world rely on Chinese funding. China produces more carbon dioxide emissions than any other nation — over a quarter of total global emissions — and more than double what the U.S. generates.

China’s counterfactual climate posturing is only possible because of the failure of Western nations, especially the U.S. President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the importance of fighting climate change or offer any notable policy proposal to it has left a vacuum which China is now moving to fill. Beijing should not be in a position to land blows against the U.S. by criticizing its ‘negative stance’ and ‘poor track record’ on climate change. Yet here we are.

Mr. Trump once said that climate change is a ‘Chinese hoax.’ Fortunately for him, his party, and all Americans, he at least appeared to acknowledge — for the first time — in the presidential debate several weeks ago that climate change is, at least in part, man-made. But he still fails to fully grasp the issue. To date, he has refrained as far as possible, for inexplicable reasons, from confronting climate change head-on.

Combined with his urge to blindly do the opposite of whatever Beijing is concocting, the result is the leader of the free world being played like a fiddle. When the Chinese government engages in hollow virtue-signalling over the environment, Mr. Trump’s response should not be to slip further into denialism. Instead, he should seize the opportunity to place the U.S. at the forefront of environmental innovation. That way, he would beat China, save the planet and reap the immense electoral benefits of embracing innovation-based environmentalism. Polls suggest that 69% of voters would view him more favorably if he did that. When it comes to the environment, there are no second chances. De-Sinofication — disentangling Western polities and economies from China — is shaping up to be the most important foreign policy project of the century. When it comes to climate change, the way to do that is not to stoop to Beijing’s level and undo years of progress. Instead, the West must call out China’s failures and set an example for the rest of the world by implementing a positive, pro-growth environmental vision. For that, we need strong leadership from the United States.

Express: China is threatening Taiwan. Britain must stand up for what’s right

This article was first published in the Daily Express.

In December 1949, following a brutal civil war in which millions died, the government of the Republic of China retreated to the island of Taiwan. With the support of the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong’s Communists had seized control of Beijing and implemented a dictatorship.

To this day, the Communist Party rules over mainland China – and its 1.4 billion inhabitants – while the Republic of China remains consigned to Taiwan. Fast-forward 70 years and Beijing has an economic stranglehold over most of the Western world while Taiwan is ostracised and outcast, nearly to the same extent as North Korea. Taiwan’s requests to join the UN have been repeatedly snubbed. Almost no countries recognise its sovereignty and nationhood, obeying the dogmatic Communist doctrine of the One-China Policy under threats of tariffs and trade restrictions from Beijing.

The 24 million-strong Taiwanese populace – and its democratically-elected government – are excluded from the international community.

China has become so powerful that Europe and the US have for decades collectively turned a blind eye to its flagrant human rights abuses and undue influence in key international institutions like the World Health Organisation, out of fear of economic retribution.

Western economies have become so intimately entangled with Chinese industry – and therefore with the omnipotent Chinese government – that Beijing now feels it can get away with almost anything.

But 2020 marks something of a watershed moment for Chinese relations with the West.

The Chinese Communist Party’s sins have reached a tipping point. China’s outrageous confiscating of power in Hong Kong, combined with its appalling genocide of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and its coverup of vital information relating to the initial coronavirus outbreak – at a cost of tens of thousands of lives – has left Western governments with no choice but to act.

Though they have been tepid so far, responses from the West are beginning to trickle through.

Huawei was swiftly removed from the UK’s 5G network and three million Hong Kong residents who had found themselves under Beijing’s boot were invited to relocate to Britain and offered a path to British citizenship.

But one aspect of China’s recent belligerence – perhaps the most troubling of all – remains largely unaddressed.

In recent days and weeks, China has issued a number of troubling military threats against Taiwan.

It has been making a show of flaunting its military prowess and is even flirting publicly with the idea of invasion.

The Chinese government believes that Taiwan is its sovereign territory. From Beijing’s point of view, China is perfectly within its rights to do whatever it pleases in Taiwan.

In Hong Kong, the Communist government had no hesitation in sending in hordes of riot police to violently subdue peaceful pro-democracy protesters, resulting in innumerable tragedies.

In Taiwan, they won’t be sending in the police. This time, it will be the military.

There is, of course, a necessary trade-off in foreign policy decisions. Sometimes we have to allow other countries to conduct their business in their own way, even if they do so differently to how we would have done it.

But there comes a point when humanity and compassion must supersede political convenience, when it becomes unconstructive – and indeed, destructive – to set a precedent of inaction as rogue governments run rampant. In the case of China, we passed that point a long time ago.

Taiwan is a model democracy. It represents everything that post-Brexit Global Britain should be working alongside and fighting to defend.

As Britain leaves the EU and carves out a new place for itself in the world, we must stand up for human rights and the importance of national sovereignty on the international stage. And that means standing up to China.

Conservative Home: Taiwan, Britain and the UN. It’s time to rethink the One-China Policy

This article was first published on Conservative Home.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which is an arm of the UN, has come under a great deal of scrutiny this year as a result of its disastrous leadership throughout the pandemic, the most troubling aspect of which is its close links with China.

When the Coronavirus first emerged, transparency of information in government was suddenly more pivotal than ever before. But little to no information sharing occurred between countries at that crucial time, thanks to the combination of the WHO being at Beijing’s behest and the Chinese Communist Party’s aversion to openness of any kind. The cost of that failure was tens of thousands of lives.

The CCP’s tentacles extend far beyond the WHO, of course. The Chinese government has spent the last several decades worming its way into every corner of the UN. Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of that is the UN’s persistent refusal to recognise Taiwan as anything other than Chinese territory.

Imperialism is alive and well in the twenty-first century. China, a modern colonial power, still claims sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the fact that Taiwan has been an independent country for over 70 years, and its government was democratically elected by its population of 24 million.

Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN has nothing to do with Taiwan itself. It’s not as if the UN considered Taiwan’s request to join and rejected it on merit. Even North Korea is a member, after all. The UN simply refuses to acknowledge Taiwan’s existence. It is so beholden to the will of the Chinese government that it does not dare contradict anything that comes out of Beijing. What is the point of an international peace project if it reliably does the bidding of a communist dictatorship?

If there was ever a time to put our foot down and begin to roll back China’s power on the world stage, it is now. “De-Sinoficiation” will define international relations in the coming decades. The Coronavirus coverup, along with flagrant assaults on democracy in Hong Kong and the appalling genocide of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, mean that the world has no choice but to begin to distance itself from the CCP.

This will be an almighty task. For at least forty years, our politics and our economies have gradually become more and more intimately connected with those of China. Disentangling ourselves from that relationship will be a lengthy and arduous process. Finally deciding to exclude Huawei from our 5G network was the first step on a very long road.

But it is a journey we must make. De-Sinoficiation is a necessary task. The entire western world has effectively turned a blind eye to China’s wrongdoing for far too long. The watershed moment has now passed – there is no going back. In order to preserve any semblance of a liberal, globalised world order, China must be knocked off its omnipotent pedestal and held accountable for its actions.

Taiwan’s right to exist as an independent nation seems a good place to start. The right and wrong of the issue is clear-cut and it has always been a touchy area for the CCP, whose greatest fear is its sweeping authority being undermined.

In the Economist’s democracy index, Taiwan ranks third in Asia and 31st in the world (higher than Italy and Belgium). Meanwhile, China languishes among the fifteen least democratic countries, making it more authoritarian than Cuba and Iran. While Taiwan was legalising same-sex marriage, making it the first country in Asia to do so, China was writing ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ into its constitution.

Taiwan stands ready and able to become a fully-fledged member of the international community. There ought to be no question about its validity as an independent country. You might even argue that the island nation, which calls itself the Republic of China, has a much stronger claim to be the Chinese government than Beijing.

On top of everything else, Taiwan is a trailblazing Covid success story. Its total death count from the pandemic to date is seven. The Taiwanese government is also going above and beyond any reasonable expectations in order to build friendships with other democracies around the world, including the UK.

Despite the western world unfairly shunning it in favour of China’s economic might, Taiwan continues to behave courteously towards its would-be allies. For instance, the Taiwanese government donated over a million face masks to the NHS at the height of the British coronavirus outbreak.

Since then, Taiwan has – politely – asked to join the UN and be recognised as an independent nation, calmly pointing out the enormous body of evidence and precedents in its favour. Those calls have gone unheard. Some bridge-building is going on – such as through UK Export Finance investing in a Taiwanese renewable energy project – but it will never go far enough while China is still in the picture.

The British left is beginning to stake its flag in Beijing apologia. Now is the time for Conservatives to demonstrate what post-Brexit Global Britain could look like by standing up for freedom on the world stage. The first step ought to be reconsidering the long-outdated One-China Policy, which would surely cause a ripple of similar actions across the west and – potentially – force the UN to reconsider its close relationship with China.

The Government has an opportunity to lead the world on de-Sinofication and create a valuable new ally for Britain in the process. Let’s not waste any more time.