SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Democracies should stop China's 'bad behaviour': Patten

Constraining China's "bad behaviour" is crucial for the world's democracies, which need to recognise their values and political processes are under attack by Beijing.

In an address to the Australian National University on Tuesday night, Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, urged liberal democracies to snap out of their complacency and be prepared to stand up for their cherished freedoms and open societies.

The Oxford University chancellor said like-minded nations needed to band together to pursue their similar goals, but rejected this amounted to a new Cold War or an attempt to contain the Asian superpower.

"It is hugely in our interest to constrain bad behaviour by China and to recognise that it is China which has determined that it has to attack our own system of values and interests at every point," Lord Patten said.

He warned the US against making a mistake of "epic proportions" and foreign policy blunders worse than Vietnam and the Middle East, by going to war with China to "slap down" the country if it grew "too big for its boots".

"Like it or not, China - with or without the Communist Party - has to be a part of the solution to the world's problems," the former governor said.

Lord Patten said western democracies had deluded themselves by assuming the economic and technological transformation in China would inevitably lead to political change.

On Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Lord Patten was scathing as the west allowed Vladimir Putin, who he dubbed the "tsar of lies", to escape consequences for the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and backing of the Assad regime in the Syrian war.

He said Washington and Westminster "went weak at the knees" and failed to take action when the "red line" of chemical weapons had been used in Syria.

"What was Mr Putin supposed to learn from all this? It would not be unreasonable for him to conclude that we were pushovers and that we wouldn't recognise a red line even when it was drawn in blood," Lord Patten said.

The former governor said the Conservative party at the time would not have been recognised by its WWII leader Winston Churchill for its lack of nerve.

Lord Patten said European countries had also made the mistake of assuming trade with Russia would change it.

He said Ukraine was fighting for the values of liberal democracies on their behalf by demonstrating its "European democratic vocation in death, destruction and sacrifice".

Lord Patten said there were "no soft answers" for people living in free societies.

"Others make the sacrifices today so that many of us can live in open societies," he said.

"We must not ignore their example or think that we can get away indefinitely with keeping our heads well down below the parapet of our own good fortune."