Harborough MP helps launch a new political movement to 'shine a powerful light on the UK’s relations with China' amid the Covid-19 storm

“I’m sure that the time was coming anyway for us to look at our relationship with Beijing in a whole new way' he said.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 1:41 pm
Harborough MP Neil OBrien has helped launch a new political movement focusing on China amid the Covid-19 storm.

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien has helped launch a new political movement focusing on China amid the Covid-19 storm.

Neil has become secretary of the new China Research Group, led by Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

Made up of Conservative MPs, the influential new set-up will focus on “calling out” the communist giant at the centre of the global virus crisis.

Neil told the Harborough Mail: “We are determined to shine a powerful light on the UK’s relations with China.

“I’m sure that the time was coming anyway for us to look at our relationship with Beijing in a whole new way.

“And the coronavirus pandemic has just accelerated that crucial process and crystallised the need for action now.”

A former key adviser to Chancellor George Osborne, the local Tory MP said “China’s secretive, authoritarian government” had serious questions to answer over the devastating coronavirus outbreak.

“We haven’t got a clue how the pandemic broke out in Wuhan late last year.

“The Chinese government’s repeatedly refused to allow the World Health Organisation properly investigate the outbreak.

“They are refusing to allow any sort of international inquiry so we haven’t got a hope of trying to establish what happened,” insisted Neil.

“If they’ve got nothing to hide what are they so worried about?

“They arrested the doctor in Wuhan who warned colleagues about the new disease.

“He was charged with ‘making false comments’ that ‘disturbed the social order’.

“Brave journalists who reported that significant numbers were dying if the virus in Wuhan were arrested – and two are still missing.

“The massive cover-up is still going on because more have been arrested since.

“The hardline, oppressive Chinese regime doesn’t respect the human rights of its own people – never mind those of other countries.”

The dad-of-two said Beijing has “bullied” democratic countries like Australia and Sweden for “daring to ask reasonable questions”.

“The coronavirus crisis has brought forward a debate we badly needed anyway.

“We seriously need some real transparency, honesty and integrity about how we get along with the Chinese.

“That’s why I and other Conservative MPs have set up the China Research Group.

“We urgently need fresh thinking about how to protect ourselves from the Chinese government’s aggressive economic policies,” stressed Neil.

“How to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s effort to reshape the world in a way that suits autocracy.”

The MP said the Prime Minister’s controversial decision to hand Chinese tech giant Huawei the British contract for installing 5G will have to go back under the microscope amid mounting security fears.

“The illusions of the 1990s have gone up in smoke.

“That China would inevitably democratise as it developed.

“That it was on an inevitable path of opening up,” said Neil.

“That cheap goods from China would benefit the west, but we’d be able to hold on to higher tech jobs.

“This has all been wrong, wrong and wrong again.

“We need a new plan to deal with China and fast.”