UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has challenged the Chinese premier, Li Qiang, over Chinese interference in the UK parliament, after two men were arrested amid allegations that a parliamentary researcher had spied for Beijing, The Guardian reported.
Sunak met Li on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Delhi in an unplanned meeting hours after the Sunday Times, UK revealed the researcher, who is understood to have had links to senior Conservative MPs, had been arrested along with another man.
After the meeting, Sunak said: “I obviously can’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation but with regard to my meeting with Premier Li what I said very specifically is that I raised a range of different concerns that we have in areas of disagreement, and in particular, my very strong concerns about any interference in our parliamentary democracy, which is obviously unacceptable.
“We discussed a range of things and I raised areas where there are disagreements. And this is just part of our strategy to protect ourselves, protect our values and our interests, to align our approach to China with that of our allies like America, Australia, Canada, Japan and others, but also to engage where it makes sense,” The Guardian reported.
According to Chinese media, Li told Sunak the two countries “should properly handle disagreements, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns.”
The meeting had not been scheduled, but was confirmed on Sunday morning after news of the arrests broke. The issue was the first thing Sunak raised during their 20-minute encounter, to which Li responded that the two countries had “differences in opinion”, The Guardian reported.