APPEASEMENT REVIDIVUS OR XI JINPING IN LONDON
"Mr Xi’s visit this week should indicate whether these considerable downpayments toward improved ties with China are likely to yield concrete returns. So far, the payback has amounted to little more than a pocketful of promises. Beijing says it plans to issue debt in renminbi, the Chinese currency, in London, earmarking the city as the pre-eminent financial centre for renminbi business in a non-Chinese timezone. It also plans to open more links between the London Stock Exchange and counterparts in China, preparing the way for a potential interchange of portfolio investment flows. In addition, well over 100 business deals are expected to be signed. The UK is taking a gamble in seeking a “golden decade” of ties with China. Sharp differences between the two countries’ political systems, diplomatic alliances and attitudes toward human rights suggest that no matter how well choreographed the current mood of bonhomie may be, future ruptures are virtually assured. Nevertheless, the size of the potential commercial opportunity is such that the UK is justified in rolling out the reddest of red carpets for the Chinese Communist leader this week."Leader, "UK is right to roll out the red carpet to Xi Jinping". The Financial Times. 19 October 2015, in www.ft.com
Any British Prime Minister who meets the Dalai Lama knows it will upset the Chinese government — but for decades, no British Prime Minister has much cared. John Major met him in 10 Downing Street, as did Tony Blair. These were small but important nods to Britain’s longstanding status as a friend of Tibet. Of course the Chinese Communist Party disliked seeing the exiled Buddhist leader welcomed in London — but that was their problem. How things have changed. Now China is far richer and Britain is anxious, sometimes embarrassingly so, to have a slice of that new wealth. From the start of his premiership, David Cameron has been explicit about this. ‘I want to refresh British foreign policy to make it much more focused on the commercial,’ he said. ‘I want to be much more focused on winning orders for British business overseas.’ Diplomats received new orders: promote the interest of businesses, help the recovery. Britain had a new message for the rest of the world: we want your money.Fraser Nelson, "Features George Osborne’s epic kowtow to China". The Spectator. www.spectator.co.uk What can one say about all the festivities going on in London over the Chinese President's state visit? 'Disgusting' and 'nauseating' immediately come to mind as the most apt descriptions. The new form of 'kowtowing' that British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne are engaging in is for anglophiles like myself difficult to both stomach and to even read. Which is not to gainsay the nominal rationale for this behavior. Merely that: a) it is extremely dubious morally speaking. Given the fact that the regime in Peking still regards one of the 20th century chief monsters in human form (Mao Tse-tung), as worthy of emulation and respect ('75% right and 25% wrong') should be by itself enough to prevent any closeness to the regime in Peking. Not to speak of the character of the current regime; b) that so far notwithstanding all of the efforts by Cameron, et. al., to cozy-up to Peking, the economic benefits so far are pretty much a damp squib. As the Financial Times noted in an report which almost completely gainsays the Leader in the paper on the very same day (see above):
"the apparent lack of concrete benefits that have so far come from London’s new approach in dealing with China’s authoritarian leaders. China is the biggest trade partner for 67 countries but the UK is not one of them. In 2014, mainland China was Britain’s sixth-largest export market, according to the Office of National Statistics, just ahead of Belgium and Luxembourg but well behind allies such as the US, France and Germany, who have been upset by London’s policy towards China 1.."And while au fond, London's sudden amorousness of things Chinese is a result of fears of so-called American decline (which are of course not merely confined to London), the fact of the matter is that the Americans should really take a long and hard look to see if the United Kingdom is still 'alliance-worthy' or not. Given the steady decline in British military might of the past twenty-plus years, there is an argument that London's Chinese infatuation puts paid to any notion (insofar as it still exists) of a 'Special Relationship'. And that accordingly, perhaps London should be excluded from the various intelligence and military agreements that Washington has with the United Kingdom. This is of course a very very harsh step to take. But sans steps of this sort, it is difficult to imagine what will cause 10 & 11 Downing Street to reconsider the course that they are mistakenly taking. And if such a step or steps is to be effective, the sooner it is taken the better. As noted by one British-based, Chinese émigré academic:
“By telling his Chinese host that the UK will do practically anything to persuade the Chinese to accept the UK as their best friend, the Chinese government would have to be constituted by idiots to not ask for more and more — and the Chinese government is run by very able, hard-nosed and astute political players 2.”1. George Parker & Jamil Anderlini" Britain’s red-carpet welcome for Xi baffles traditional allies". The Financial Times. 19 October 2015, in www.ft.com. 2. Ibid.