Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chinese president made welcome in Britain | … but many problems need to be overcome

The Conservative government of David Cameron is currently cementing relations with China, on the occasion of the official visit of the Chinese president to London. There are very good reasons for this. The strong expectation is that China will be a more important trading partner of Britain than even the rest of the EU within the next twenty years. Despite a softening of Chinese growth in the recent past there is no reason to believe that this is anything other than a stabilising of its economic well-being.

The Chinese president, Mr. Xi, and his wife, present a good image of China.

… but many problems need to be overcome

Quite apart from issues like the denial of democracy in China, at least in any kind of format that would be recognisable in the West, there are a number of matters that will have to be overcome if the budding friendship is to last. Even this week the announcement of serious job losses in the UK’s once blooming steel industry have been blamed almost entirely on the dumping of cheap Chinese steel, in extremely large quantities, on the global market.

More seriously for the UK is the displeasure in the US about the fact that Britain saw fit to become a founding member of the Chinese dominated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which was set up to rival the World Bank. It is not beside the point that the Americans hold sway in that last named institution. This led, last March, to a very rare public reprimand from the Obama administration to the British. Washington accused London of a “constant accommodation” of China on that occasion.

The US could conceivably be looking for UK assistance over Chinese activities in the South China Sea, where China has constructed nothing less than a new island in ocean territory that is also claimed by Vietnam, The Philippines and Taiwan, and in which matter America has taken a distinctly anti-Chinese stance.

No doubt the US authorities are keeping a good eye on this week’s activities in London.

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