[Christina Rees in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 2:51 pm ar 15 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Employment Rights and Protections) 2:51, 15 Mai 2024

Not in Mandarin, no—in English. There is a very important distinction that we would all make between the Chinese people and the CCP. There is no doubt that the CCP is the malign influence in all this.

On the question of social media, there is a concern that there may be an imbalance between what we see in this country and what is seen in China, and there may be deliberate reasons for that. We should certainly look at that and at the dangerous anti-western, conspiracy theory, democracy-undermining stuff that comes out from all around the world, and in particular from China.

I echo the comments made by the director general of MI5 in 2022. He said that it would be wrong for us to cut ourselves off from one fifth of the world’s population, and that we should continue to engage and work with China in a way that is consistent with our national security. But I do not think we have the balance right. As the hon. Member for Isle of Wight said, that balance will be consistently and constantly reviewed. We need greater international resilience to international incidents. The analogy with what happened in Russia is very important, because that is a real threat that we could face in the next few years, and we do not want to leave ourselves overexposed.

As has been said, many western countries have begun to understand the risks that we face, have taken action against firms such as Huawei, and have limited the use of such technologies in sensitive and critical infrastructure. In that context, questions must now be raised about our reliance on supply chains that are controlled by China and have such a huge impact on our infrastructure.

It is clear that China holds a dominant position over global supply chains that are critical to the net zero transition. It controls a significant proportion of the rare metals necessary for lithium-ion batteries, wind turbines and solar photovoltaic modules. On the lithium-ion battery chains, China is responsible for 80% of the supply of spherical graphite, refined manganese, anodes and electrolytes, so we clearly need a co-ordinated response to that.

It feels as though we are at a very important point in global politics. We must work across the globe to deal with the many challenges that the planet faces, while at the same time protecting our national security and long-term economic interests. Taking a cautious and proactive approach to risks is central to protecting our country and its citizens. I believe that the way we approach China will be a central feature of our lives for many years to come. On every occasion that we deal with it, the question of security, economic or otherwise, must be the very first thing we ask.