China failing to play by global rules – including over its claim on Taiwan – would cut short its rise as a superpower, according to British foreign secretary Liz Truss.
She said moves to isolate Russia from the world economy in response to its invasion of Ukraine proved that market access to democratic countries was no longer automatic.
“Countries must play by the rules. And that includes China,” Truss said in a speech at Mansion House in London.
Britain, the world’s sixth-largest economy, is dwarfed economically and militarily by China, but believes that via soft power and strategic alliances it can help persuade Beijing to be part of a more dynamic international system.
China’s economic and military rise over the past 40 years is considered to be one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union which ended the Cold War.
But Truss said its further rise was not inevitable. “They will not continue to rise if they do not play by the rules. China needs trade with the … Group of Seven, [which represents] around half of the global economy.” she said.
“We have shown with Russia the kind of choices that we’re prepared to make when international rules are violated.”
Earlier this month, US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said China should persuade Russia to help end the war in Ukraine, or face a loss of standing in the world.
Truss said NATO needed to have a global outlook that extended to democracies outside its membership, citing Taiwan.
“We need to pre-empt threats in the Indo-Pacific, working with allies like Japan and Australia to ensure that the Pacific is protected,” she said.
“We must ensure that democracies like Taiwan are able to defend themselves.”
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell