You couldn’t make it up, or if you did nobody would believe it. Behind the absurd pomp and pageantry of the visit of Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, the most right-wing nationalist UK government of the post Second World War era has sold out our national security. Osborne fiddles with his white bow-tie whilst our steel industry burns, and it becomes ever clearer that the Eton clique, as Xi might call them, have abandoned hope of indigenous economic activity beyond the square mile.
Whilst red flags over The Mall might warm the cockles of Jeremy Corbyn’s heart, the royal flummery is designed to camouflage Britain’s abject humiliation behind smoke and gilded mirrors. As Chinese secret police agents handed out party approved banners on the streets of London to bussed in Chinese students1, we even pay homage to communist loyalty parades. It will be show trials next (Blair had better watch out).
A regime with a track record of responding to man-made disasters with denial, censorship and repression of critics, is being given responsibility for the construction and operation of nuclear reactors. What could possibly go wrong?
The country that gave railways to the world has gone begging to the Chinese for help in building a high speed line. And lets not mention that the arch-privatisers are bringing in state-owned companies to achieve all this. Apparently it is OK so long as they are foreign state owned.
You can see the contempt in the eyes of Xi as he wades through the glittering obeisance. And he still has a visit to Imperial College with “Prince” Andrew to look forward to.
No self-respecting country would hand-over critical infrastructure projects to their allies never mind to a country which presents a serious threat to global security and stability. China, in case anyone has forgotten, is a dictatorship where human rights lawyers are jailed and tortured. The repression is also partly a reaction to increasing protests against the corruption of the party elite and their arbitrary abuse of power. The supposed free-marketeers are still in awe of autocratic capitalism, but there are increasing signs that the Chinese bubble is about to burst.
As former Conservative advisor Steve Hilton said, “the truth is that China is a rogue state just as bad as Russia or Iran, and I just don’t understand why we’re sucking up to them rather than standing up to them as we should be.2”
The Chinese Ambassador to London batted away the very suggestion that the UK Government would raise human rights concerns with President Xi. He didn’t have to mention that the UK has its own human rights issues ranging from torture and drone strikes to our cruel treatment of the disabled. He might legitimately have questioned why a government that is proposing to renege from international human rights treaties was seeking to lecture anyone.
And what does it say about Ukania that our leaders think that the way to impress China is with royalty and arcane ritual. Twenty-seven years after Tom Nairn published “The Enchanted Glass3” it seems the “symbol of our national backwardness” is the best we have to offer.