Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been warned that Britain is at risk of taking its historic relationship with the Commonwealth for granted as China tried to replace us.
One of the Prime Minister’s trade envoys, MP Daniel Kawczynski, wants the UK to reach substantial agreements with Caribbean nations to prevent them from cutting ties.
He sees this as vital, given that a number of countries with King Charles as head of state are considering becoming republics, following Barbados’ lead in 2021.
In June, its Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, met with China’s Premier Li Qiang in Beijing, as the country distances itself from previous connections.
“This is a shot across the bows of how we can no longer afford to take these Caribbean nations for granted, or underestimate the increasing effect of China,” said Mr Kawczynski, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on St Kitts and Nevis.
“We are in a race with China over political and economic influence across the Caribbean,” the Shrewsbury and Atcham MP wrote in a memo to the Foreign Office.
“We need to demonstrate to nations that we understand their priorities and are working towards incorporating them in a new bilateral trading partnership.”
It follows the UK’s July decision to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asia-Pacific trade bloc comprised of 11 other countries, including Commonwealth nations Australia and New Zealand.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visited China last week, meeting Vice President Han Zheng and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Mr Sunak intends to meet President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit on Saturday.
However, concerns have been raised concerning the Foreign Office’s hidden policy for dealing with China. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons warned in a report last week that “it is not even available to senior ministers.”
It indicated that the government’s strategy was “incoherent” since ministers and officials didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing.