The PM will lead a delegation to China on Wednesday. With Brexit Britain desperate for trade, it’s time we got down to brass tacksby George Magnus / January 30, 2018 / Leave a comment
On Wednesday, Theresa May will lead her first UK delegation to China, following in the footsteps of her Chancellor Philip Hammond late last year. Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador to the UK, told the Xinhua news agency recently that the purpose is to “push forward the Golden Era for bilateral ties.”
Yet that phrase “Golden Era,” invoked by David Cameron in 2015 and now deployed in peacock-like fashion by UK politicians “as we leave the European Union,” is a misnomer. The UK is very much the minor partner and supplicant in the relationship.
As if to highlight this, it was reported two days ago that previously agreed commercial deals with the UK, and the prime minister’s planned business meetings in China, might be at risk because the UK had not formally endorsed China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is Xi Jinping’s most important international relations strategy, designed to cement China’s influence over Asia, the Middle East and beyond. Only last week a US Congressional hearing was warned by experts about the threat the BRI posed to the western world. Perhaps the PM and Donald Trump exchanged words on this at their Davos meeting.