London, Jul 25 (EFE).- Aspirant prime minister Rishi Sunak on Monday said that China was the United Kingdom’s “number one threat” as he ramped up his leadership campaign ahead of a crucial TV debate with his opponent Liz Truss.
The former chancellor of the exchequer — the UK’s answer to a finance minister — said that as prime minister he would confront China’s soft power in the UK by closing the country’s 30 Confucius Institutes, education centers linked to the Chinese government.
He also pledged to form an international alliance to protect against Chinese cyber attacks and provide greater support to British intelligence agencies.
Sunak’s announcement came hours ahead of a BBC debate with his rival, the current foreign secretary Liz Truss, who on Monday set out her own policy proposals promising to be “unashamedly pro-business.”
The BBC debate is set to take place with an audience of Conservative Party voters, who will ultimately choose the next leader of the party. The winner will also become the UK’s prime minister once Boris Johnson formalizes his resignation in early September.
The new Tory leader will be announced on September 5.
While Sunak enjoys greater support from his party colleagues, Truss, a right-wing candidate, is favored by the party members, polling suggests.
In recent days, the campaign teams for both candidates — who were government colleagues under Johnson until Sunak resigned — have exchanged criticism and rhetorical blows.
Sunak has tried to undermine Truss’ Brexit credentials, by pointing out that she voted to remain in the European Union in 2016 and only since has become a hardcore supporter of the measure.
Truss said she would cut taxes should she become the prime minister, while Sunak has said he would not cut taxes before 2023 to avoid fueling inflation. EFE