Right-wing Tories launch China Research Group over coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 12:45 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:45 29 April 2020

Boris Johnson speaks with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi during a UK-China Strategic Dialogue at Lancaster House. Photograph: Ben Stansall/PA.

Boris Johnson speaks with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi during a UK-China Strategic Dialogue at Lancaster House. Photograph: Ben Stansall/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A group of prominent Conservative MPs have launched a campaign group to pressure Boris Johnson to act over the UK’s relationship with China following allegations it had tried to cover up the coronavirus outbreak.

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The China Research Group, based on the influential European Research Group of Tory Brexiteer MPs, seeks to restrict Beijing’s growing influence in the UK.

There has been concerned about Chinese telecoms manufacturer Huawei playing a role in the building of the UK’s 5G network, as well as with the building of new nuclear power plants.

Tom Tugendhat, who will chair the group, said allegations about the Chinese government’s actions over the coronavirus had underlined an “urgent need for a better understanding of China’s place in the world” and how the UK government views it.

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“Beijing’s long pattern of information suppression has contributed to the unfolding crisis. The [Chinese communist] party are now using the current emergency to build influence around the world.

“Along with our allies, we must be part of this global conversation, and to begin it we need to understand what China’s leaders are saying and doing.”

MPs on the committee include former de facto deputy prime minister Damian Green, Andrew Bowie - formerly Theresa May’s parliamentary secretary - and new Tory MPs from the 2019 intake.

They include Laura Trott, Dehenna Davison, Alcia Kearns, and Anthony Browne.

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