The personal touch

Think tank: The Henry Jackson Society

Author(s): Lord Bethell

July 5, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Henry Jackson Society looks at how Britain’s values-based diplomacy can champion dissidents around the world.

The Foreign Commonwealth, and Development Office “could and should have done more“ to stand up for dissidents around the world, particularly in China, according to a new report. In a paper authored for the Henry Jackson Society, Lord Bethell, who served as a health minister during the pandemic, criticised the Foreign Office, for a “disappointing” failure to meet Hong Kong dissidents and Uyghur representatives and for failing to recognise the Taiwanese Representative Office in London. The author claimed that ministers’ failure to meet with Nathan Law, who has been seeking a meeting for 18 months, was endemic of a “rhetoric gap” in the UK’s response to China. He goes on to describe the Foreign Office’s support for “dissidents and democracy movements” as “too erratic, subject to outside pressures and… not deliver[ing] the required impact”. The UK’s approach to Taiwan is also “out-of-date”, according to Bethell. More broadly he claims that “the UK lacks a clear strategy when it comes to helping to improve China’s human rights record”.