Express & Star comment: China's influence only growing

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

It is no secret that China has spent decades attempting to increase its influence around the world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the closing session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC)

And under President Xi Jinping the plan has ramped up in recent years, with Beijing apparently dead set on getting a foothold inside every Western power.

It is now hard to find an aspect of life where China has not become a major influence.

Here in the West Midlands we have seen Chinese firms take over a number of our football clubs, with Fosun at Wolves and Lai Guochuan's ownership of the Baggies.

And our Government has given Huawei a role in supplying 5G technology, although there may well be a rethink on that decision once the outcome of an emergency review is published.

Only a fool would believe that China's drive for global sway is entirely good willed.

A bit of financial muscle-flexing is one thing, but questions must be asked over how much of it is directed towards promoting the policies of the Communist Party of China abroad?

In recent years we have seen similar tactics from Russia, with the Kremlin accused of meddling in foreign elections, some of which took place in this country.

The Huawei deal has been controversial from the start, with many MPs on both sides of the Commons arguing that the firm poses an unacceptable long-term security risk to the UK's phone networks.


Boris Johnson cited the advice of intelligence agencies when he decided it would be safe to deploy Huawei, providing the company was declared a "high-risk vendor" and subject to a 35 per cent cap on its share of the market.

If the decision is overturned – and remember, this is a Government that has virtually made the 'U-turn' a policy in itself – it will undoubtedly put a major strain on relations between Britain and China.

How Mr Johnson handles the fallout will be yet another a huge challenge of his leadership skills, particularly at a time of great economic uncertainty.

The Cold War may be a thing of the past, but the free world is still very much under threat.


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