Peter Mandelson assured the Chinese PM that critics of Beijing’s human-rights record would be ‘proved wrong’ during a lobbying meeting on behalf of rich clients.
The Labour peer, who has been advising party leader Sir Keir Starmer on how to boost his poll ratings, told the meeting of business leaders and Chinese officials that Premier Li Keqiang ‘would not be hearing complaints from the European side today’ – despite mounting international criticism of China‘s authoritarian rule and alleged cover-up of the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Minutes of the February 5 meeting, which have been leaked to The Mail on Sunday, said: ‘With one side [UK] missing any governmental representation, Peter Mandelson acted in that role.’
Peter Mandelson (pictured) assured the Chinese PM that critics of Beijing’s human-rights record would be ‘proved wrong’
The minutes said Lord Mandelson, who played senior roles in Tony Blair’s administrations and was known as the ‘Prince of Darkness’, made opening remarks which were agreed with business participants in advance.
They included ‘a reference to the changing political atmosphere, with ‘a movement questioning the West’s relationship with China’ and China’s desire to be a genuine long-run partner in the international system’.
Lord Mandelson, 67, said: ‘We are confident that China can prove them wrong.’
The meeting with Mr Li and other senior members of the Chinese government was jointly convened by Lord Mandelson’s lobbying company, Global Counsel, and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
It included contributions from HSBC chairman Mark Tucker, Prudential chief executive Mike Wells and Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson.
Lord Mandelson is closely associated with the 48 Group, an organisation dedicated to promoting trade between China and the UK.
Mendelson said Premier Li Keqiang (pictured) ‘would not be hearing complaints from the European side today’
A book published last year, called Hidden Hand: Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World, described the 48 Group as a networking hub ‘through which Beijing grooms Britain’s elites’.
The book’s authors said: ‘So entrenched are the [Chinese] influence networks among British elites that Britain has passed the point of no return and any attempt to extricate itself from Beijing’s orbit would probably fail.’
Under Lord Mandelson’s chairmanship, the meeting skirted around international criticism of the regime and instead discussed how ‘China and Europe can work together to do things more innovatively and better, using improved business models and technologies’.
A spokesman for Global Counsel said: ‘You have received a partial account of Lord Mandelson’s opening statement at this meeting. Lord Mandelson said, ‘We are offering each other a lot already. You will not be hearing complaints from us today – instead, how we can do things innovatively and better’, and ‘We realise the political climate is not perfect. There is a movement questioning the West’s relationship with China. They will call out China’s foreign policies and adherence to international rules and norms so as to claim that China does not want to be a long-term partner with the West in the international system. We are confident that China can prove them wrong.’ ‘
The spokesman added: ‘At no point did Lord Mandelson take up a role associated with or representative of the UK Government.’