National Security

In British Parliament, New Conservative Caucus Looks to Get Tough on China

China Research Group chair Tom Tugendhat / Getty Images

The U.K. Parliament's China Research Group (CRG)—a caucus of Conservative Party China hawks—has increased both its membership and operations significantly since April, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Founded by MP and former British Army officer Tom Tugendhat, the group has clarified its message in recent months. "The point is pretty simple," said Tugendhat. "It is to make sure we have a better understanding of what China is doing globally." Roughly 100 of the Parliament's 364 Conservative members subscribe to CRG's newsletter.

"The group's work will look well beyond the immediate coronavirus crisis or issues relating to Huawei and will consider the longer term challenges associated with the rise of China and its industrial and diplomatic policies," according to the group's official page. Such policies include China's economic policy, technological development, and foreign relations.

The group has already mobilized to alter strategic thinking in London. British prime minister Boris Johnson previously described himself as "very pro-China" and largely maintained the status quo in Chinese-British relations before the coronavirus pandemic. The CRG has pushed for a paradigm change on the British right, however, culminating recently in new British sanctions against Chinese tech company Huawei.

The Conservatives' new emphasis on brushing back China aligns with Washington's efforts against the Chinese Communist Party in recent months. Visiting London in July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a "coalition" to mitigate Chinese global influence.

"We want to see every nation who understands freedom and democracy … to understand this threat that the Chinese Communist Party is posing to them," Pompeo said.

British lawmakers echo Pompeo's words. "We need an international coalition," said CRG member and Conservative lawmaker Damian Green. "Britain is in a good place to pull this together."