April 14. 2024. 6:18

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Former British prime minister Liz Truss warns about ‘rise of totalitarian China’

Ex-British PM Liz Truss has used her first major speech abroad since quitting the post to urge the world towards stemming “the rise of totalitarian China”.

Mr Truss told a conference in Tokyo on Friday that democracy was in danger from authoritarian regimes “which are building up their armaments, as they build up their arguments … to try and influence the global world order”.

The conference was organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (Ipac), a group of politicians from “democratic states” who say they are co-ordinating a united response to the rise of China. Ipac’s Irish members include Senators Michael McDowell and Mary Seery Kearney. Its co-chairmen include Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne and Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward.

Ms Truss added a note of regret, saying Britain was ”naive” to roll out the red carpet for Chinese president Xi Jinping during a 2015 state visit. “Looking back, I think this sent the wrong message.”

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[ Erstwhile China advocate Liz Truss now singing from a different hymn sheet ]

Ms Truss quit after just 44 days in office last year, the shortest tenure of any British prime ministe. Critics say her speech was a Churchillian bid to outflank her successor Rishi Sunak from the right by indirectly accusing him of being “soft” on China.

Former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison told the same conference that appeasement of China in the hope it would democratise has failed. “The benign and accommodating view of China has proved to be, arguably, the most misplaced assumption in international relations since Neville Chamberlain proclaimed ‘peace in our time’ on his return from Munich in 1938,” he said.

‘Ambitious narrative’

Mr Morrison said China’s dream of returning to its “rightful place as the hegemon of Asia”, requires the full incorporation of Hong Kong and the reunification of Taiwan within China, “by force if necessary. We should not underestimate the appeal this ambitious narrative has with the Chinese population.”