Skip to main content

Call for Evidence

Call for evidence

The UK’s security and trade relationship with China


The International Relations and Defence Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the UK’s security and trade relationship with China.

The inquiry will consider the Government’s approach to China, and how this has evolved. It will examine the UK’s security interests vis-à-vis China, the UK’s partners and allies, including the Five Eyes partnership, and the UK’s diplomatic, defence and security resourcing for further engagement in China’s neighbourhood. It will also consider China’s importance as a trade partner and source of investment.

The inquiry will consider the Government’s Integrated Review in the context of China, once this document is published.

We welcome written submissions relating to the questions below. The deadline for submissions is 24 March 2021.


1. When was the National Security Council’s strategic approach to China last updated, and what are its principal elements? The Government committed in its June 2019 response to the Foreign Affairs Committee to “find opportunities to set out more detail on the UK Government’s approach to China over the next 18 months”. What further information has been announced, and what changes have there been since 2019?[1]

2. How is the work of different Government departments on China co-ordinated? How effective is this co-ordination?

3. In what ways has UK policy to China changed between the premierships of David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson? What were the drivers of these shifts (for example domestic opinion, the UK’s relationships with international partners, or developments in China)?


4. What are the UK’s security interests vis-à-vis China, and what are the potential threats to these interests (for example freedom of navigation and upholding international maritime law)?

5. Does the UK have sufficient diplomatic, security and defence resources to engage further in China’s neighbourhood? Is there a potential trade-off to be made with regard to other UK national security priorities? How can the UK best work with and leverage the resources of its allies and partners?

6. Which are the UK’s principal partners and allies with regard to its engagement with China?

  • What are their principal interests, and to what extent do they align with the UK's interests?
  • To what extent does membership of the Five Eyes partnership influence UK policy on China?


7. How important is China as a current and future trade partner for the UK? Which sectors are of most significance (such as financial services, higher education et cetera)? How does UK trade with China compare to that of other comparable countries (such as France and Germany).

8. Should the UK be seeking to increase trade with China? What considerations should underpin the Government’s trade agenda with China (for example intellectual property protection, human rights et cetera)? Are these issues specific to China, or common to the UK’s overall trade policy?

9. How important is Chinese investment to the UK? What are the principal sources of current and potential investment (for example private companies or sovereign wealth funds)? Which sectors receive the most investment?

10. What implications will the National Security and Investment Bill (when passed) have for Chinese investment in the UK?

11. How does the EU approach to Chinese investment, in particular the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, differ to that of the UK? Are there elements of the agreement that should be replicated for the UK-China relationship? To what extent has leaving the EU altered the UK’s approach to China in the areas of trade and investment?

12. What are the implications for the UK’s relationship with China of the UK’s planned membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)? What is the likelihood of China joining the CPTPP, and if it did, what would be the implications for the UK?

China’s approach

13. What are the implications of China’s pursuit of major international strategic initiatives (such as the Belt and Road Initiative) for the UK’s foreign, development and security interests? Are these in conflict with, or compatible with, the UK’s interests?

14. How and in what ways does China use its economic strength as a foreign policy tool? How should the UK respond to this approach?



This call for written evidence has now closed.

Go back to The UK’s security and trade relationship with China Inquiry