The Foreign Secretary has pledged to reshape British foreign policy if she wins the keys to Number 10. Ms Truss has also vowed to reopen the integrated review published last year which outlined British priorities in terms of diplomacy and defence over the next decade.
Allies of the South West Norfolk MP argued that during her premiership China could be elevated to a similar status to Russia, which is defined as an “acute threat” in the review.
The review concluded that China was a “systemic competitor” and even indicated Britain should deepen its trading relationship with Beijing.
However, the authors of the review also said that the UK would need to be wary about threats to national security.
They said: “Open trading economies like the UK will need to engage with China and remain open to Chinese trade and investment, but they must also protect themselves against practices that have an adverse effect on prosperity and security.”
Ms Truss’ change in approach is an attempt to clampdown on the Treasury’s reported willingness to encourage economic cooperation with Beijing.
According to leaked documents seen by the Times, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is Ms Truss’s opponent in the Conservative leadership contest, was on the verge of signing trade agreements to make the UK the “market of choice” for Chinese companies.
Ms Truss is expected to prioritise national security considerations over economic cooperation due to claims Beijing has suppressed democracy in Hong Kong and mistreated Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.
An ally of Ms Truss told the Times: “There will be no more economic partnerships.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington have since deteriorated even further following the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which China considers a separatist province.
As Foreign Secretary Ms Truss signed the AUKUS defence pact in order to supply Australia with the technology to build nuclear submarines.
One justification for the move would be the potential threat Beijing poses to Canberra and the potential for Chinese domination in the region.
This is exemplified for some analysts by China’s plan for a military base in the Solomon Islands.
Some supporters of Ms Truss believe that she should build a military base in the region but this is likely to cost billions of pounds.
A Truss campaign source told the Times that she would attempt to take a “hawkish stance” towards China as Prime Minister.
They said: “Liz has toughened the UK’s stance on Beijing since becoming foreign secretary and would continue to take a hawkish stance as PM.
“She’s been active in calling out China’s economic coercion, working with G7 and other allies to mobilise investment into low and middle-income countries as a counter to China’s Belt and Road initiative.”