On 26 February 2021, the UK parliamentary International Relations and Defence Committee (a House of Lords Select Committee) launched an inquiry into the UK’s security and trade relationship with China.

The inquiry will consider the UK Government’s relationship with China, including the latter’s significance as a trade partner and source of investment for the UK. It will also examine the UK’s security interests vis-à-vis China as well as evaluating how UK policy towards China has evolved under the Cameron, May and Johnson governments.

The inquiry follows increased engagement by the UK Government into its China policy over the past year (see recent examples here and here). A similar parliamentary inquiry was held by the UK International Trade Committee into the implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2019.

As part of the new inquiry, the Select Committee has launched a public call for views on a broad range of issues including:

  • The shifts in the UK’s China policy between successive UK Governments.
  • The UK’s security interests vis-à-vis China and the extent to which the UK’s membership of the Five Eyes partnership influences its policy on China.
  • The relative importance of China as a trade partner to the UK and the sectors that are of most significance.
  • The implications of the National Security and Investment Bill (see here) on Chinese investment in the UK.
  • The implications of China’s pursuit of major international strategic initiatives including the Belt and Road Initiative (see here) for the UK’s foreign, development and security interests.
  • The extent to which the EU’s approach to Chinese investment, in particular the recently announced EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (see here), differs to that of the UK’s approach.
  • The implications, if any, for the UK’s relationship with China of the UK’s planned membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) (see here).

The Committee is seeking written evidence from the public by 24 March 2021 and a full list of questions can be found here. Oral evidence sessions are also taking place this month.

Should you be interested in submitting written evidence for the inquiry, please do feel free to contact us.


Sunny Mann is a Partner and leads the EMEA and UK International Trade team, ranked Tier 1 by Legal 500. His practice includes a focus on national security, foreign investment, export controls and trade sanctions matters. He has worked on a number of foreign investment review cases, including obtaining clearance for a high profile acquisition triggering potential defence and national security concerns, one of the very few cases to go through a full UK statutory review. In the Legal 500, Sunny is ranked as a "Leading Practitioner".