UK sets up a “China Research Group”

Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien: About the China Research Group”

The China Research Group [has been] set up by a group of Conservative MPs in the UK to promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China. The group’s work looks beyond the immediate Coronavirus crisis or issues relating to Huawei, with the aim of considering the longer term challenges and opportunities associated with the rise of China and its industrial and diplomatic policies.

These include:

  • China’s industrial policy. How China’s trade policy, state aid and strategic inward investments are shaping the world, not just the UK.
  • Technology futures. How the development, ownership and regulation of platform technologies that underpin future economic growth and innovation are being influenced.
  • Chinese foreign policy. The effects of “Belt and Road”, China’s main objectives, and where these align or clash with ours. How to understand Chinese soft power as well as hard power.

The CRG aims to promote understanding, leading to fresh thinking about issues raised by the rise of China, and provide a trustworthy source of news and informed knowledge on China issues. It seeks to promote greater debate about the huge challenges thrown up by the way China competes in the world.

This group will also explore opportunities to engage with and work with Chinese people, companies and government.

Who is involved?

The group is led by Tom Tugendhat MP and Neil O’Brien MP. They lead a committee which consists of Dehenna Davison MP, Anthony Browne MP, Laura Trott MP, Kevin Hollinrake MP, Alicia Kearns MP, Andrew Bowie MP and Damian Green MP.

The research team, Julia Pamilih and Chris Cash, are responsible for the day-to-day running of the group.

What does the CRG do?

  • Newsletter: A daily press summary and weekly review which brings together key China news and analysis.
  • Events: Regular public seminars, inviting leading thinkers and politicians from across the world to discuss issues related to China.
  • Research: Publishing original research and analysis on UK-China relations.
  • Dialogue: The CRG maintains an active dialogue with people and organisations in the UK and abroad who are involved in UK-China relations.

Getting involved

We are currently expanding our research output. We are always keen to hear from anyone who may wish to contribute or is involved in UK-China relations. Want to get in touch? Contact us.New: Statement on sanctions against the China Research Group

A message from Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien on the decision to sanction the China Research Group.

Statement on sanctions against the China Research Group

Ultimately this is just an attempt to distract from the international condemnation of Beijing’s increasingly grave human rights violations against the Uyghurs. This is a response to the coordinated sanctions agreed by democratic nations on those responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang. This is the first time Beijing has targeted elected politicians in the UK with sanctions and shows they are increasingly pushing boundaries.

It is tempting to laugh off this measure as a diplomatic tantrum. But in reality it is profoundly sinister and just serves as a clear demonstration of many of the concerns we have been raising about the direction of China under Xi Jinping. Other mainstream European think tanks have also been sanctioned this week and it is telling that China now responds to even moderate criticism with sanctions, rather than attempting to defend its actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

As British legislators this will not actually affect us hugely, but the point of Beijing’s actions is to make others feel threatened, and to have a chilling effect on business people in particular. The sanctions come in a week where yet more Western businesses are discovering that China is becoming a dangerous place to do business, with H&M and others facing huge financial losses because their statements supporting basic human rights have offended an increasingly nationalistic and unpredictable Communist party.

The China Research Group has been trying to understand contemporary China better. One of our growing concerns has been that under Xi China has been moving away from a path of openness and cooperation and towards a path of increasing nationalism and aggression. This latest sinister attempt to shut down debate even within established democracies sadly just underlines those concerns.

As so often with Beijing, these sanctions are deliberately vaguely defined. Depending on what they mean by sanctioning the entire China Research Group, more than 100 UK MPs who have participated in our work and events could theoretically be covered by this, including senior members of every major UK political party.

Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien

China Research Group26 March 2021



BBC 2021Who are the Uighurs and why is China being accused of genocide?”

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One response to “UK sets up a “China Research Group”

  1. Fair Dikum

    In the original statement setting out its objectives, the China Research Group states it is “not anti-China” (which is missing in the Thuppahi posting) – a claim that is very difficult to accept at face value given that most of the material posted on the China Research Group website is extremely anti-China – much of it from the Murdoch media or displaying characteristics of being propaganda. Of course, the China Research Group is anti-China, and China knows it, and they were sanctioned for that reason, and that reason alone.

    We have seen the most extraordinary avalanche of allegations coming out of the UK about so-called “genocide” in Xinjiang – but much of it appears to be supported by cooked-up so-called “evidence” such as Google photographs that prove nothing, or images taken off China TV news reports and then taken out of context and fabricated as evidence. Individual case studies, which are presented as acts of genocide cannot be verified as being a true representation of what occurs in China. We should also keep in mind, Xinjiang has a long history of terrorism going back to the 1990s which has been ignored or underreported in West (intentionally so) and those who do mention it have been labelled “an apologist” for China, which is sheer nonsense.

    The fact the Western media do resort to fabricating evidence is a good reason why we should regard with a healthy degree of scepticism the kind of manipulation driven by groups such as the China Research Group. It presents a very weak understanding of China.

    One positive aspect of the China Research Group website is that it provides a useful tool which can save researchers a great deal of time in going back to identify issues and how these have played out in the unfolding context of time, but the material presented must be read with an open mind, which includes being open to the possibility of being manipulated to take a particular point of view about China. It is also important to check other sources not included in the China Research Group website as they do tend to be selective in the material they present which injects a certain bias. We should also bear in mind the stated objectives of the China Research Group may not be their true objectives.

    With regards to the cynical statement on sanctions against the China Research Group, it is not a distraction, but a response to their anti-China position. The so-called “coordination” referred to, when one delves into the list of names, we find politicians who are trying to build a case for Western intervention to topple the CCP. Their actions will not bring about a positive result. This attempt to present a united front is somewhat suspicious given the way some UK politicians have bullied New Zealand for not conforming to the same ideology that breeds inside the UK government.

    What is particularly disturbing is that while UK politicians have declared “genocide” taking place in Xinjiang as if the evidence they have is absolute, the UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said (as reported in the South China Morning Post) that if “Beijing wants to credibly reviewed claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, it should allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights full access to verify the truth.” That is an astonishing statement because it reveals Dominc Raab doesn’t know the truth and doesn’t have the truth. He has no idea of what is occurring in Xinjiang, and by implication neither do UK politicians or the UK media.

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