(Bloomberg) -- A UK Labour government would recognize that the Chinese Communist Party poses “real security threats” due to its expanding military and support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to shadow foreign secretary David Lammy.

In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine setting out Labour’s foreign policy if it wins the general election due in the next 10 months, Lammy called for a “more consistent” policy toward Beijing, accusing Rishi Sunak’s governing Conservative Party of being guilty of “confused ambiguity.”

Labour would adopt an approach that “simultaneously challenges, competes against, and cooperates with China as appropriate,” Lammy wrote.

In some of the opposition party’s most hawkish words about China under the leadership of Keir Starmer, Lammy warned it had become “more repressive,” showing that the Western “consensus that economic globalization would inevitably breed liberal democratic values” had been “proved false.”

“The Chinese navy has the greatest number of warships in the world,” Lammy noted, warning that “China’s shipbuilding capacity is approximately 230 times as large as that of the United States.” 

“Beijing’s growing military power has, in turn, helped Russia’s challenge in Europe,” he said. Bloomberg reported this month that the US is warning allies that China had stepped up support to help Moscow’s war in Ukraine. 

Seeking to define Labour’s foreign policy strategy as a doctrine on “progressive realism,” Lammy — who is likely to become Britain’s top diplomat if his poll-leading party takes power — said he would adopt “tough-minded honesty” about the UK’s place in the world.

Tackling climate change and defending democracy are priorities, he wrote.

On China, that meant recognizing that it “poses a systemic challenge for British interests and that the Chinese Communist Party poses real security threats,” he wrote, while also accepting “China’s importance to the British economy.”

“It is in everyone’s interest that China’s relationship with the West endure and evolve,” Lammy said.

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