China is a growing superpower with a different worldview and an entirely different set of values from the UK.
So how should the government handle its relationship with Beijing?
In Rishi Sunak’s first major foreign policy speech as prime minister, he said his approach would not be “grand rhetoric” – sounding a bit like soft pop in a Boris Johnson – but “pragmatism robust”.
What does it mean?
Mr Sunak acknowledged that “China is competing for global influence using all the levers of state power.”
He also said it was “naive” to think that “trade would lead to social and political reform”.
Speaking of soft pop, without referring to anyone in particular, you might recall that seven years ago, and four prime ministers, David Cameron took Chinese President Xi out for a pint in a pub of Buckinghamshire.
The argument was that the best way to engage economically and diplomatically with China was to expand trade relations.
Then-Chancellor George Osborne even said London’s relationship with Beijing was entering a “golden era” – something Mr Sunak said bluntly and definitively was “over”.
But he still wants to warm up the relationship, compared to what it has been.
When Mr Sunak’s team briefed us on reporters at the G20 summit in Indonesia ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Xi, we were reminded that it had been over 18 months since a British Prime Minister had not even spoken on the phone to the Chinese president.
And we must go back to Theresa May’s time in Downing Street for the last face-to-face encounter when she visited Beijing in early 2018.
As it happens, the formal meeting in Bali between Mr Sunak and President Xi got cancelled because both leaders’ diaries were upended by the missile that landed in Poland, killing two people and briefly sparking concern about a confrontation between NATO and Russia.
Instead, the two leaders managed a quick hello but nothing more – but a proper meeting was very much what the prime minister wanted.
Rishi Sunak’s argument is the UK “simply cannot ignore China’s significance in world affairs,” as it extends to economic stability, climate change and food security.
In short, he says, these issues can’t be substantively addressed unless there is a relationship with Beijing.
Labour describe this ebb and flow of the instincts of various recent prime ministers as the government “flip-flopping its rhetoric on China
But what might this new relationship actually look like? Or, to get back to where we started, what does “robust pragmatism” actually mean?
His critics are quick to offer a view.
One of his predecessors as Conservative leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, is blunt