What Britain’s rapturous reception of President Xi shows about its future
Have Britain and America ever been more divided over any foreign-policy issue in the past 100 years than they are right now over China?
Consider the last fortnight. America has finally decided to confront China over its island grabs in the South China Sea. The Chinese government has responded by writing in its state media that it is “not frightened to fight a war with the U.S.” and that China must now “prepare for the worst.”
Meanwhile Chinese President Xi Jinping has just returned from his state visit to the United Kingdom, where the nation rolled out the reddest of red carpets. British officials joined their Chinese counterparts in proclaiming a “golden era” in British-Chinese relations. The Chinese state media called it an “ultra-royal welcome.”
This stark divide shows how serious Britain is in its pursuit of its new friend. It is willing to ditch its longest standing partner and perhaps risk its special relationship with America. This split is not over some fringe issue. The rise of China is one of the biggest predictable events of the 21st century. How to deal with China is one of the top foreign-policy questions facing the West today—its long-term implications are far more important than the rise of the Islamic State, the fate of Syria, or any number of foreign-policy crises that occupy officials’ attention.
Britain’s rapturous welcome of the new power demonstrates the tone of British foreign policy from here on out: We’re a declining power; let’s throw ourselves at other nations in the hope that they’ll help us out.
Britain’s conservative government has long seen the rising Asian powerhouse as a solution to Britain’s economic woes. Over the last few years, it has been backtracking from its support of Tibet’s Dalai Lama. Prime Minister David Cameron had to publicly announce that he had no plans to see the Dalai Lama again as a precondition to any thaw in British-Chinese relations.
Since then, Britain’s pursuit of China has been desperate. The first big move came this spring, when Britain became the first major Western nation to sign up to China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (aiib). The United States saw the aiib as a direct challenge to the dollar-dominated global financial system. It persuaded the Western world to refuse to join—until Britain led the way in defying the U.S. Once Britain broke ranks, much of Europe and other U.S. allies quickly followed.
The Trumpet has long said that British-American relations would fray and that the nation would pursue Germany for help. We’re seeing the same instincts in place with China.
Britain is already well on the way to doing this with Germany; the other world leader the nation rolled out the “reddest of red carpets” for in recent years was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
This habit of going to other nations to solve British problems is a dangerous weakness. These other nations have their own interests at heart. It is a recipe for getting taken advantage of.
For more on Britain’s said pursuit of foreign lovers, read Trumpet managing editor Joel Hilliker’s article “Want to Know What a Former Superpower Looks Like?” ▪
Full article: Britain Bows to China (The Trumpet)