China is "flexing its muscles" like Nazi Germany in the 1930s and tolerating continued "bad behaviour" could lead to war, a former Royal Navy chief has warned.
Lord West, who is a former First Sea Lord and ex-Chief of Defence Intelligence, condemned a security law proposing greater control over Hong Kong.
Urging parliamentary peers to take action rather than continue to appease the regime, he said Beijing had exploited coronavirus as a distraction "to see what they can get away with".
Lord West stressed the need for action arguing that, as with Hitler, appeasement would only encourage “bad behaviour” and could eventually lead to war.
Speaking in a House of Lords debate on the security law, passed by China’s National People’s Congress, the Labour peer said: "China is flexing its muscles rather like Hitler’s Germany in the early 1930s using the distraction caused by the Wuhan virus to see what they can get away with.
"The new national security law will fatally damage the 'one country, two systems' agreement on Hong Kong."
The proposed measure would alter the former British colony’s mini-constitution, or Basic Law, to require its government to enforce measures to be decided later by Chinese leaders.
The 'one country, two systems' agreement saw Hong Kong return to Chinese rule in 1997, guaranteeing high autonomy for 50 years.
Intimidation against neighbours in the South China Sea, intellectual property theft, aggression in cyber space and "unnacceptable" trade in human organs were also condemned.
Lord West called for "deterrent action rather than appeasement" against China, adding the latter "could finally lead to war".
To combat the crisis, he proposed reviewed international trade with China and a NATO-style alliance for South East Asia.
Former Hong Kong governor Lord Patten of Barnes said China had shown that it "bullies and breaks its word – and is a threat to the world in many respects".
Cover image: PA.