China clearly poses, as the PM once said when standing for election, a systemic threat to us and the rest of the free world.
When I heard about the recent Express/Guardian interview with the Foreign Secretary setting out government policy, I was reminded that he is a fan of Yes Minister which at first made me assume this was a deliberate parody. After all, every convoluted sentence sounded as though the Yes Minister scriptwriters were back but now in charge of government policy. When asked about whether China posed a threat to us, the UK position is apparently ‘convoluted.’
So are they competition? Are they a threat? Are they a challenge? Are they an opportunity? Are they a this or are they a that?....we don't distil any other bilateral relationship into one word….And not even that easily into one phrase or one sentence. But China's big, it’s influential, it's important.’
Actually, I do not believe it is hard to distil our relationships down to one word. After all, we describe the USA as an ally, as are the others in NATO. They are clearly not threats.
Sadly, so much of the government's position on China now stems from a desire not to upset China if at all possible.
Our enormous economic dependence on China that has flowed through the Universities and other institutions has, it appears, left government policy in a kind of project Kow-Tow.
Remember how Chinese diplomats in Manchester beat up a peaceful democracy campaigner in a blatant abuse of their diplomatic status? So much of this was videoed and the Consul General publicly admitted it. Yet, instead of kicking those responsible out, China, after a carefully choreographed delay was allowed, without any apology, to quietly return them to China. It seems we were fearful of retaliation.
Then there are the ‘Chinese Police stations', manned it seems by Chinese citizens, not diplomats that seek to intimidate Chinese dissidents here in the UK using their families in China and threatening them as well if they don’t return home.
We have known about this for some time, it has been raised endlessly in Parliament, yet nothing has been done.
Why haven’t they been kicked out, particularly as robust action is now happening in other countries like the USA and the Netherlands, yet not here? You don’t need a sentence or a phrase to define China’s actions there.
As China steals private Company IP’s and subsidises company contract bids in contravention of the WTO trade rules to the detriment of British and other free world companies, we still don’t have a word for that?
Remember the millions who died of Covid around the world because China failed to come clean early enough to the WHO about the Covid outbreak in China - we don’t have a word for that?
We are told that we have influence with the brutal Chinese government, and have, as the Foreign Secretary stated, “….no intention of throwing away what influence I do have, even with China,”.
Yet right now, China is committing genocide in Xinxiang, using slave labour in Tibet and Xinxiang, illegally occupying the South China Seas, persecuting peaceful democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, persecuting Christians, supporting Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and openly threatening to invade Taiwan.
Somehow I feel bound to ask, which bit of that litany did our ‘influence’ stop from happening?
Even now in another passage, so redolent of ‘Yes Minister,’ our official policy now, is that China is an ‘Epoch defining Challenge,’ one we apparently will meet with ‘robust pragmatism.’
Oh how Sir Humphrey would be proud.
As if that wasn’t galling enough, the Chinese Ambassador to France has shown how much China supports Putin. Attacking our support for Ukraine, he brutally dismissed the independence of NATO nations Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia as well the right to exist of Ukraine - now fighting for its freedom. “These ex-USSR countries,” he said, “don't have actual status in international law because there is no international agreement to materialize their sovereign status,"
It makes you wonder what exactly Macron agreed with President Xi.
Simply put Foreign Secretary, China clearly poses, as the PM once said when standing for election, a systemic threat to us and the rest of the free world.
The problem is that the more government ministers attempt to explain their present policy towards China without using that word, the more I find myself thinking of George Orwell.
“Political language," Orwell remarked, "…is designed..to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”