UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced an increase in funding to amplify skills and knowledge on China, for government staff. This includes training on economic and military policy as well as Mandarin language skills.
The ‘China Capabilities Programme’ operating to increase Chinese expertise across the UK government will receive extra financial support across all departments.
Since 2021 and the last Integrated Review, the UK government have made specific steps towards increasing knowledge of and expertise on China, including extensive provision for the training of over 170 civil servants in Mandarin.
In a statement, the UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said, “It’s vital that our diplomats and civil servants have the understanding and expertise to engage and adapt to the increasing challenge posed by China, and China’s growing role in world affairs.”—“This extra resource will help boost knowledge and language skills across government, in the face of the systemic challenge that China poses to the UK’s security, prosperity, and values.”
The Integrated Review Refresh, launched in March, gives precedence to the UK government’s growing concern on the military, diplomatic, and economic activity of the Chinese Communist Party—with particular apprehension over military activity in Taiwan and the sanctioning of British members of Parliament.
The government website states: “China is becoming more authoritarian at home and more assertive overseas,” expressing that an increase in funding is another example of action taken by the UK to ensure effective engagement with China “while protecting national security.”
Last year a smaller pilot program was launched with a focus on language skills and cultural knowledge. In total it delivered: the training of 170 civil servants in Mandarin—20 of whom attended a language immersion program in Taiwan, extensive courses on culture, government structures and policymaking, and the establishment of a sector named the “China experts’ advisory group.” Training was extended to hundreds of government staff, addressing a broad range of expertise.
Investment in Chinese language and culture skills is expected to continue.