Cabinet split extends beyond China’s role in the UK electric vehicle industry

Cabinet divisions are widening over China’s role in the UK’s electric vehicle supply chain as the government works on how to handle economic ties with superpowers. Independent Can be clarified.

The Senior Conservatives are afraid that Britain is “trapped” by handing over sensitive aspects of the Green Industrial Revolution to a regime that threatens Britain’s security.

Parliamentarians who tried to raise these concerns noticed that they were becoming more and more isolated, and the prime minister suggested that such fears were exaggerated, according to those familiar with the debate. There is.

Boris Johnson’s position has been increasingly relaxed in China’s investment in recent months, with some suggesting that this is partly due to his senior adviser Dan Rosenfield.

One government source said business with China was essential, but some regions were too sensitive to trade or invest with the world’s second-largest economy.

They cited the recent acquisition of semiconductor company Newport Wafer Fab, whose technology targets electric vehicles, as an “textbook example” when China’s involvement in the UK economy is “unacceptable.”

Ministers are also considering the involvement of China General Nuclear Power Group, the role of the Chinese state-owned utility in the construction of reactors for Sizewell C power plants. Some lawmakers believe that China should not play a role in the country’s critical infrastructure.

Others in the party and the Cabinet believe that Britain should focus on securing more foreign investment and see commercial ties as an influence on China. These disparities have led to disagreements among government ministers over the strength of the language Britain should use to criticize China in the G7 communiqué.

Number 10 refused to comment on the split allegations, but Newport’s deal is currently under review by the Prime Minister’s national security adviser, Sir Stephen Lovegrove.

One senior Tories said: People have somehow become hysterical when they recently expressed concern about the risks China poses to the 10th-ranked country. “

“This is a country that has been publicly accused of attacking confidential technology,” another Tory lawmaker added. “If we give Beijing the key to the Green Technology Revolution, how are our international allies going to take us seriously?”

Earlier this month, the UK accused China of attacking Microsoft Exchange servers, and the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC), a division of the UK security agency GCHQ, said a “spread pattern” of hacking by Chinese-sponsored attackers. I explained. state. The United States also blamed the attack.

The Conservative Party has a history of division in how it deals with its economic ties with China. Gavin Williamson has been dismissed in a 2019 investigation into a leak from the National Security Council discussing the involvement of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in the UK’s 5G network.

Cyber ​​attacks, allegations of genocide against Uighur Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and increased military presence in the Taiwan Strait all raised Tory concerns about the ethical and security implications of China’s investment. rice field.

Earlier this week, former NCSC director Ciaran Martin said the £ 63m acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab poses a greater threat to the UK than Huawei’s involvement in 5G. The Welsh semiconductor manufacturer was acquired by Nexperia, a Dutch subsidiary of Chinese company Wingtech.

Newport Wafer Fab specializes in chips used in electric vehicles. Critics say that the global shortage of semiconductors over the past year has made it even more essential to secure domestic capacity for their development and manufacture.

The deficiency is caused by a variety of problems, from coronavirus to drought, affecting everything from the iPhone to the automotive industry.

The planned acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab is not the only major Chinese concern in UK electric vehicle production. Envision AESC, a Chinese company, has recently jointly invested £ 1 billion to build an electric vehicle at Nissan’s Sunderland plant.

Senior conservatives said these steps reflect other similar Chinese investments in AI computing and represent a threat to UK technical sovereignty.

One Tory compared the sale of Newport to what was blamed by the technology intelligence community when the Center for Integrated Photonics was acquired by Huawei in 2012. Although small at the time, the company owned invaluable intellectual property. Photonics, the science and technology of light, can be used in a variety of applications, from lasers and fiber optics to telephone cameras and screens.

Former National Security Adviser and Cross Bench Pier Sir Peter Ricketts said Independent Newport was the “test case” of the government’s new National Security Investment Act aimed at strengthening its ability to intervene in mergers and acquisitions.

“Above all, it shows the lack of a mechanism for Western governments to coordinate China’s investment policies with potential security concerns. Each government has its standards as they progress. Seems to be building up, “he added.

Former Prime Minister of Australia Tony AbbottSaid on Tuesday that his country would not allow transactions such as Nexperia’s £ 63m acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab, and the UK now believed that it was “obviously … going in the same direction.”

In a speech to a policy exchange think tank, Mr. Abbott, an outside adviser to Mr. Johnson’s trade committee, said Western countries are in the technology business. China..

Britain promised to build every new car Electricity by 2030 To that end, we will significantly expand domestic battery production. The US and EU are also trying to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

However, China is currently set to dominate the lithium-ion battery market, accounting for nearly 70% of global production by 2029. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence..

China is also a major supplier of the global supply of rare earth metals. Although these deposits are widely distributed around the world, China’s large-scale extraction process for these metals has a negative impact on the environment.

“From raw materials to semiconductor technology to the production line itself, China will own this proportion of the electric vehicle supply chain in the UK,” said senior Tory.

A spokesperson for the business unit said: “As an open economy, we welcome foreign trade and investment, including China, which supports Britain’s growth and employment, but we do not accept investments that could undermine national security.

“The National Security Adviser is considering the Newport Wafer Fab case and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary.”

Cabinet split extends beyond China’s role in the UK electric vehicle industry

Source link Cabinet split extends beyond China’s role in the UK electric vehicle industry

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