Failed prime minister Liz Truss has used her first major speech since leaving office to attack China. She also took a swipe at France’s president Emmanuel Macron for visiting the Asian economic powerhouse.
Truss was already hawkish, but that commitment seems to have become central to her politics since her short time as PM. She made a similar intervention in February 2023. Speaking at a conference in Tokyo, Truss tried to encourage Rishi Sunak, who succeeded her as PM after her abysmal tenure, that he should be more aggressive in dealing with Beijing.
Previously, she had also clashed with the Chinese ambassador over Taiwan during her stint as foreign secretary in 2022.
Truss gave her speech at Washington’s Heritage Foundation, a leading right-wing thinktank in the US. She complained that Macron had visited China with the intention of moving forward a peace deal in Ukraine.
Bizarrely, Truss told the audience that China’s president Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin were allies against Western capitalism:
That is why western leaders visiting President Xi to ask for his support in ending the war is a mistake and it is a sign of weakness.
The west should support Taiwan, she said:
Instead our energies should go into taking more measures to support Taiwan. We need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself. We need to put economic pressure on China before it is too late.
Liz Truss gonna Liz Truss
It’s worth reminding ourselves, as Truss plods on with her rebrand, that she is still the former PM who lasted only six weeks in the job. And, Truss being Truss, every somewhat-sensible soundbite must be leveraged against an outright bonkers one.
Beyond the rhetoric, she did make some recommendations. She said the UK should follow the US approach, for example, by enforcing technology trading restrictions on China.
However, that of course came along with some corkers. And that’s leaving aside the suggestion that China and Russia, themselves major capitalist economies, are in alliance against western capitalism. Somehow, she also found a way to work into her speech a suggestion that ‘wokeness’ was to blame for high taxes.
As for the notion of Truss returning as a force in politics, let’s remember that this is the same politician who once earnestly told a Russian foreign minister that Britain would never recognise Russia’s sovereignty over Russia. Reinvigorating her career is going to take more than a few blustery speeches.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Office of US Ambasssador, cropped to 770 x 403.
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