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Truly global Britain' an oxymoron

Date: 2020-07-21
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Truly global Britain' an oxymoron

Sino-British relations have been on a bumpy road lately. Last week, London capitulated to Washington's demand to exclude the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei from its next-generation networks.

 

This came when China and the United Kingdom were already trading barbs over the new national security legislation for Hong Kong. And with tensions fueled by reports about a possible plan by the UK to impose sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses, another follow-my-leader move to align with the United States.

 

A move that China will have to respond to 'resolutely', as Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said on Sunday. Such developments in the bilateral relationship are worrying, given how significantly the tide has turned from just a few years ago.

 

In 2012, London overtook Singapore as the world's second-largest offshore renminbi center, and in 2015 the two countries were talking about entering a 'new golden era' in their relations. That year the UK government gave its full backing to the Chinese initiative to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite US opposition. Even in July last year when Boris Johnson was chosen to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, he said his government would be very 'pro-China'.

 

He kept his words, initially — for example, when he stuck to the decision in January to use Huawei technology in the 'noncore' parts of the country's 5G network rollout.

 

Yet with the US ramping up the pressure such as threatening to re-examine its intelligence-sharing partnership with its ally, he has changed his tune.

 

Which is sad, as it shows the Johnson government is unable to envisage an independent foreign policy. Rather than 'taking back control', as one of the Brexit slogans misleadingly claimed, the UK is now dancing like a puppet as Washington pulls the strings.

 

The UK is now 'chief cheerleader' as the US tries to build a coalition against China, as Vince Cable, the former leader of the Liberal Democrat party, observed.

 

All this shows the 'truly global Britain', which the UK has been trying to sell to the world, rings as hollow as the snappy slogans that have become a hallmark of the Johnson government, which spoon-feeds them like Valium to the British public. Bereft of any vision, ideas and policies of their own, the occupant of No 10 Downing Street and his inner circle have blown up the mutually beneficial relations with China so they can cling to Washington's trouser legs.

 Truly global Britain' an oxymoron

 

As Liu said, by rejecting Huawei, the UK is rejecting opportunities and growth. It is rejecting the future.

 

Simply because it lacks the confidence to be truly global.


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