Rishi Sunak poised to sign microchip deal with Japan to protect supplies from disruption by China – as fears grow over increasing aggression from Beijing
- Sunak flew to Japan to discuss collaboration on countering Chinese aggression
- Hiroshima Accord will aim to build new economic and security ties with Japan
The Prime Minister was flying into Tokyo on Wednesday night ahead of talks on a new economic and security agreement designed to counter growing aggression from Beijing.
On Thursday he will meet business leaders and unveil new investment in Britain worth billions of pounds and thousands of jobs.
Mr Sunak, who is accompanied by his wife Akshata Murty, will then travel to Hiroshima for the G7 summit of advanced economy countries this weekend.
Tomorrow evening he will hold talks with Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, where the two leaders are expected to agree a new ‘Hiroshima Accord’ strengthening relations between the UK and Japan.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a huddle with political journalists on board a government plane as he heads to Japan to attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima on May 17, 2023
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is pictured with journalists on a plane as he heads to Hiroshima
The deal will include a new ‘semiconductor partnership’ to help protect supplies of microchips amid a global shortage.
Sunak vows to close UK Confucius Institutes
The Prime Minister was on Wednesday night backing down from a promise to close 30 institutes linked to China’s communist government.
Downing Street said the centres would lose their UK funding but an outright ban would be ‘disproportionate’.
Around £27million was to go to the Confucius Institutes to teach Mandarin here in the decade to 2025. But last year Mr Sunak vowed to close them to avoid promoting ‘Chinese soft power’.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told TalkTV, which revealed the U-turn: ‘Confucius Institutes are nothing to do with language. The truth is they are there to spy on Chinese students.’
Catherine West, the Labour Party’s Asia spokesman, said it was another example of the Tories’ ‘chaotic approach to China’.
The move reflects mounting concern about Chinese aggression towards Taiwan, which is the global centre for the production of advanced semiconductors.
Ministers are expected to publish a dedicated semiconductor strategy Friday setting out how vital supply chains will be protected.
A government source said the deal with Japan would include ‘new commitments to pursue ambitious R&D [research and development] cooperation and skills exchange, strengthening our domestic sectors and bolstering supply chain resilience in an increasingly competitive market’.
The new accord with Japan will also boost defence cooperation, including sending more British troops to take part in joint military exercises and the deployment of a British aircraft carrier to the Far East in 2025.
The PM said he and his Japanese counterpart were ‘closely aligned on the importance of protecting peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and defending our values, including free and fair trade’.
He said the ‘hugely significant’ new agreement with Tokyo would see the UK ‘step up cooperation between our armed forces, grow our economies together and develop our world-leading science and technology expertise’.
On his way to Tokyo on Wednesday night, the PM told reporters the deal would leave Britain with a ‘strong and increasing footprint in the security of the Indo-Pacific region,’ where Beijing has been increasingly assertive in recent years.
The PM said the G7 summit would involve an ‘intense period of diplomatic activity’ focused on the economy, Ukraine and combatting the rise of China.
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishide at the start of a bilateral meeting at the Tower of London, Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Rishi Sunak (R) and Fumio Kishida (L) walk towards the exit at the end of their bilateral meeting at the Tower of London on January 11, 2023