China and Russia’s ‘Dragronbear’ alliance poses huge threat to UK: ‘Prepare for the worst’

UK needs to be ‘cautious’ when dealing with China says Truss

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Beijing and Moscow have been cosying up in a geostrategic partnership, dubbed “Dragonbear”, that has sparked fear for the Western world. One of the only major powers not to call out Russia for its Ukraine invasion, President Xi Jinping has said “China is willing to work with Russia to continue supporting each other on their respective core interests concerning sovereignty and security”.

While the two nations might be thousands of miles away from the UK, the terrifying partnership is said to be creating a domestic threat too, according to a new report for the Policy Institute at King’s College London and the Harvard Kennedy School.

It was co-authored by former Science Minister Lord Jo Johnson (Boris Johnson’s brother) and has raised the alarm over China and Russia forming a scientific collaborative axis.

He warned: “When the geopolitics shift, global science rapidly goes from win-win to battle space”.

And Britain could get dragged into this battlespace, Lord Johnson warned.

This is because the pair may seek to expand their axis fast, which could force British universities to distance themselves from Chinese institutions with which they hold close working relationships.

But Russia’s science base on its own would cause little harm to Britain, according to Lord Johnson and his co-authors.

Despite the alleged threat the alliance poses, Lord Johnson has urged the UK not to cut China off completely.

Instead, the UK needs to “urgently” improve its step up the monitoring of its China ties, or else British universities “risk passively slipping into ill-informed policy extremes”

In the report, the co-authors write that while Russian research institutions have been blacklisted following its Ukraine invasion, this had “little effect on global science” as “Russia’s science base is weak, deteriorating and marginalised”.

But taking the same stance against China “would be a major shock to global knowledge production”.

They add: “Since the turn of the millennium, China has gone from near obscurity to becoming a genuine superpower of global science and an indispensable partner for countries around the world.

“For the west, the costs of isolating China would be orders of magnitude greater than those it has incurred by banishing Russia.”

But the report adds that China has “more to lose from cutting western collaborative networks and far bigger gains by maximising global scientific collaboration than from entering a bipartite research engagement with Russia, China’s 19th most significant partner.”

And Lord Johnson urged UK universities to ”prepare for the worst by diversifying their academic partnerships and international student bodies to mitigate the risk of financial and strategic dependencies on potentially hostile autocratic countries.”

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The report adds: “At one extreme, in which we become increasingly embroiled in a global circling of the wagons, with nations prioritising economic sovereignty over mutual interdependence, we may blindly adopt a needlessly risk-averse set of policies that cripple global science.

“At the other extreme, we sleepwalk into engaging in scientific collaboration with countries whose interests are fundamentally inimical to our own.”

This could “naively provide scientific know-how, legitimacy and support to regimes that threaten the international system, engage in pervasive human rights abuses, and seek to harm us”, the report adds.

This comes after the former leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smith warned that China is pouring investment into UK universities “steal their technology” and “subvert them”.

He told in an exclusive interview: “We should stop the way they are pouring money into UK universities and their view of that is to get technology from these universities.

“And also knowing that many of the future establishments will be drawn from these institutions, they are trying to subvert them. This is all part of the game and everything they do revolves around that.

“We need to show forcefully that we are not prepared to put up with their nonsense, their trashing of international rules, the WTO, Hong Kong and their behaviour in occupying the South China Sea.

“They are a threat to us, both a military and ideological threat and we need to deal with that.”

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