Evidence on ‘boosting UK-China capabilities’ published by UK Foreign Affairs Committee

UK-China is a critical relationship where the UK lacks sufficient expertise to make informed decisions, say the co-authors of a new paper published as part of the UK Government’s Update to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

Evidence submitted jointly by Oxford China Policy Lab (OCPL) and Beijing to Britain recommend taking ‘a mature approach’ – one that directly address security concerns, maintains UK commitment to its democratic values, while simultaneously avoiding increasing inflammatory rhetoric.

The authors – Sam Hogg (Beijing to Britain), Kayla Blomquist (OCPL), and DPIR DPhil Researcher Scott Singer (OCPL) – recommend the following four strategies are prioritised in improving the UK-China relationship:

  1. Improve Mandarin language capabilities and in-country expertise from the bottom up;
  2. Improve coordination and capacity to devise and handle complex, nuanced policy strategies toward the UK-China relationship;
  3. More thoroughly implement existing policies in areas such as export controls, research integrity, and investment security by better incorporating existing expertise or  cultivating it where gaps exist.
  4. Centralise and coordinate these efforts through the establishment of a cross-departmental ‘China House’.

The authors commented: “China is emerging as the biggest systemic challenge facing the United Kingdom. How we understand and address this challenge will have implications for the UK’s security, economy, and values for decades to come.

“The British Government’s China capabilities are lacking; they need cultivation, investment, and a coherent driving force to tie them together.”

The evidence submitted was part of ongoing work at the Oxford China Policy Lab (OCPL), an interdisciplinary research group based out of Balliol College's Balliol Interdisciplinary Institute. This particular project was funded by the Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN), which seeks to bridge academia and policy gaps. OCPL is co-directed by Scott Singer, a DPhil Candidate in International Relations and Clarendon Scholar, and Kayla Blomquist, an MSc alum of the Oxford Internet Institute.