The next 100 years will see three Global geopolitical threats- from Iran, whose Shi’ite version of Islam will dominate the Middle East; from sub-Saharan Africa whose population by the year 2100 could be 6 Billion, or nearly half of the Global population; and from China whose growth, wealth and population alongside its Communist State is an ever-present threat to the World and liberal democracy.
That is why I rebelled in February against a very heavy ‘three-line whip’ and voted against allowing Huawei, who are as close to being the Chinese State as it is possible to be, from controlling our 5G networks. 5G will run every aspect of our lives- banks, public utilities, transport systems, data; and the notion of handing control of that effectively to China seemed to me to be patently absurd and wrong. I have paid various penalties since then for my rebellion, including being chucked off the Joint Committee on National Security and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. But that, I guess, is a price worth paying for our eventual (at least partial) victory announced this week that Huawei would indeed be banned from our 5G infrastructure.
China meanwhile runs concentration camps for the ‘re-education’ of up to a million Uyghur Moslems. They have imposed a form of repression in Hong King in blatant disregard of the terms of the 1997 ‘Joint Declaration’ under which we handed Hong Kong back to the Mainland. And while I am reluctant to listen to the many conspiracy theories about the origins (and intentions?) of the Covid 19 virus; I am nonetheless critical of the way China handled it and information about it, without which many western lives might well have been saved.
Meanwhile the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative which sees Chinese control of ever-increasing parts of the developing world using their massive financial muscle must be viewed with some concern. As one example, they are seeking to monopolise the rare earths mined in Greenland. If they do so, they will then control of up to two thirds of the world’s rare earth deposits, one tiny part of which is necessary for every single computer and mobile phone in the world.
I am saddened by all of this, as I have been to China many times, and love large parts of their culture and their people. But there comes a time when, despite the consequences, we need to oppose things in the world which we believe to be wrong; and to counter long-term trends, like the growth of Chinese power, which may well threaten the peace and security or even prosperity of our children and grandchildren.
There will be consequences - whether in terms of a massive cyber-attack of one kind or another coming from unattributable Chinese sources; or trade attacks, as Australia have suffered since they banned Huawei. There are military threats- especially to Taiwan and the South China Seas; and I am glad about the rumoured deployment of our brand-new Aircraft Carrier, Queen Elizabeth to the Pacific region over the next year or two.
In the words of the old Chinese proverb: “Is it not better to sit up all night than to sleep with a dragon?”