China’s global reputation “suffers” because of its ties with Russia and its decision to depart from “global rules and norms”, Britain’s new foreign minister James Cleverly said on Thursday at a forum. In a keynote address at the Milken Institute Asia Summit, Cleverly reiterated the UK ’s commitment to a so-called “Indo-Pacific” tilt aimed at strengthening trade and strategic ties in the region. “It would be impossible to give a speech in this region and not mention China,” said Cleverly who last week met China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “It’s important to talk even when we disagree – actually, especially when we disagree – because China is a major global actor and driver of growth, [and] it has lifted literally millions of people out of poverty,” Cleverly said. “But the lessons I take from watching China across my lifetime is that when China departs from global rules and norms [and] when it aligns itself with aggressive countries, like Russia, its standing in the world suffers,” he added. US, Britain back call for UN human rights debate on China’s Xinjiang The foreign minister, an appointee of the newly-minted Prime Minister Liz Truss , said: “China will always have a choice about the direction that it wants to take, but one thing that’s certain is that the UK government will always stand up for our sovereignty and economic security, and that of our partners.” Describing Britain’s Indo-Pacific tilt as “more than just a slogan”, Cleverly said the Truss government was committed to making it more than just “rhetoric”. “We were the first European country to secure a comprehensive strategic partnership with India and we intend to be the first European country to accede to the CPTPP ,” he said, referring to the 11-nation trade pact comprising Asia-Pacific nations. Cleverly’s trip to Singapore was part of a whistle-stop tour of the region. He was in Japan earlier this week to attend the state funeral of assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe. He also visited Seoul and held talks with his South Korean counterpart, Park Jin. In his 20-minut e speech on Thursday, Cleverly said Britain’s development financing body planned to spend £500 million (US$540 million) in the region over the next five years. The funds would be used to work with public and private partners to support “quality green infrastructure projects” in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos, he said. He did not provide details. Cleverly, who did not take questions following his speech, did not address the UK’s ongoing currency crisis, as market turmoil continued following the Truss government’s controversial tax cuts policy announced last week. The pound remains near record-low levels and Truss on Thursday defended the tax cuts , saying she was making “controversial and difficult decisions” to get the economy going.