Some see it as evidence of waning western influence, other were more interested in sharing comic strips on social mediaby Yuan Ren / July 8, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: The chaos still haunting China
Here in China, state television followed the European Union referendum campaign, but on the day of the result it was clear that not many people grasped its significance. Opinion pieces by Chinese commentators speculated on what Brexit could mean for the Chinese economy. While the state has been clear that Brexit was not in China’s interests, some commentators have suggested that it could be an opportunity for China.
On social media, people were sharing infographics and comic strips that explained the history of the EU—to much amusement. One popular strip portrayed the relationship between Britain and Europe as a failing marriage, with the UK as a high-class lady reluctantly marrying the EU, a below par but economically “suitable” boy. The UK berates her “husband” for bringing home members of the extended family, who were depicted as poor, Muslim refugees.
In China, discussions about the United States or Germany provoke strong reactions, particularly when it comes to relations with China. Among the older generation, the US is often seen as a troublemaker, particularly in relation to the South China Sea dispute waging between China and Japan over the extent of territorial waters. Germany is admired for its great engineering and hard working culture.
The UK is respected but kept at a distance. The array of trade deals China made with the UK in the last year are lost on much of the Chinese public. The response is often: “Yes… Premier Xi Jinping was in the UK last year wasn’t he?” People remember that the Queen invited him to tea at the “white gold” (Buckingham) palace. Yes, they remember that.
For many Chinese people, Brexit is yet more evidence of the waning of western influence, as China grows in international stature. Others think the breakup is in China’s interest. “Some around me think that the fragmentation makes Europe a lot easier to deal with,” said one friend of mine. Other commentators have pointed out that Brexit will make it harder for London to become the major offshore trading hub for the renminbi, China’s currency. But others argue that’s not necessarily the case and that, in distancing itself from the EU,…