it’s called an opposition, mr. jinping
This week has seen an outpouring of jubilation from Number 10 on par with the birth of baby Jesus, or that moment when Georgie boy realised he’d got away with selling RBS shares to to all his hedge fund pals for a £1 billion loss to the taxpayer. And why is this, I hear you ask – is the Queen celebrating her continued gig as the head of society’s most exceptional farce? Nay, merely the arrival of President Xi Jinpeng.
The Chinese premier has been given the full works by Dave and Liz: meetings, banquets and a bed at Buckingham Palace. Like the parents of little Jimmy who has brought the rich kid from school over for dinner, they have scrambled to hoover the stairs, raided Jimmy’s savings account to pay for some nice sirloins, and feverishly displayed heirlooms from the family heyday. The rich child smiles at their stories and makes sympathetic noises to their current plight. Nonetheless, his interest in their son is fleeting -as the new kid on the block, he needs a façade while he gains legitimacy in the schoolyard. That tenner he said he’d lend Jimmy is just a means to an end.
China has no desperate need for Britain; we beg for the scraps from their table, investment to power our country, keep our businesses afloat and build our technology. In return we offer them smoked salmon and cheaper visas for their middle classes, who are increasingly desperate to provide their offspring with an education that results in a modicum of free-thought and initiative, as opposed to stifled, home-grown robots.
This brings me to the crux of the matter. Trade is of undeniable importance; it can benefit the ordinary inhabitants of both countries by making goods more widely available, and for less money. Sometimes it can be seen as detrimental, witnessed in the recent case of British steel production being crippled by cheap Chinese imports. However, that is the nature of capitalism, you can’t pick and choose your cheap imports – if you want your cheap threads from Primark and your new TV, then sod’s law means you will also get cheap steel.
What I have an issue with, is recognition of China’s leaders; a ruling elite that has consistently restricted the rights of workers and migrants, freedom of speech and political rights. It refuses to recognise Tibet, has inflicted grievous punishments to suspected criminals (legitimate or otherwise), and executes more people every year than the rest of the world put together. It is here that some will cry ‘hypocrite’. In the past, Britain has invaded pretty much everyone there was to invade, fuelled the slave trade and generally acted like a bunch of marauding prats. More recently we have restricted entry from the world’s war torn countries, have a business elite that manipulates politics seemingly at will, and a monarchy made up of unelected blue bloods. Yeah I get it – we ain’t perfect.
However, here and now, I’m going to take the moral high ground. As the country that brought the world the Magna Carta, cricket and a bashful underplaying of their own achievements, we’re better than that. We’re better than ignoring, not even Western, but the human principles we purport to hold dear. Yes Great Britain is a little bit rubbish these days, and yes we haven’t got much money, but that’s the way of the world – things go up and things go down. We don’t rule the waves any more, we don’t have an empire, and we can’t even get past the group stages in a sport we invented. Nonetheless, you can be sure that even as national pre-eminences rise and crumble to dust, humanity will remain. So let’s try and be Great, even if it is standing up for what we believe in and not fawning over those who don’t deserve it.