Just like America – UK on collision course with China

5th June 2020 / United Kingdom
Just like America - UK on collision course with China

Boris Johnson’s government is desperate to do a deal with Donald Trump’s America ahead of the US election in early November. To do this, the UK is kowtowing to Trump and is now heading for a damaging showdown with China as it takes on Beijing over Hong Kong and Huawei Technologies Co.

Boris Johnson’s government has, all of a sudden got involved in the geopolitical punch-up between America and China and has now criticised Beijing’s planned imposition of a security law on the former British territory of Hong Kong. In addition, it is, contrary to its previous posture, taking steps to exclude Huawei from its fifth-generation mobile networks by lining up potential replacements.

The upshot is that China has become an overriding foreign policy priority of the Johnson government, which distracts from the wider economic problems posed by Brexit. As part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, an extension has to be agreed and signed on or before the last day of June. Without it, Britain is heading for no-deal and defaults onto WTO tariffs. Business leaders are desperately trying to get Downing Street to listen. They are battling for their very survival and the last thing they need is to be throwing valuable resources at preparing for a no-deal Brexit on December 31st.

China’s Hong Kong representation delivered a very clear message to Britain on Wednesday evening to ‘keep it’s hands-off’. The U.K. has no power of sovereignty, nor does it have power of governing or “supervision” over Hong Kong after its return to China in 1997, the city’s Office of the Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

China’s Ambassador to the U.K. Liu Xiaoming warned via Twitter, for U.K. politicians to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

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It was only last January when Johnson gave Huawei the green light in January to supply parts of the UK’s 5G network, that saw the Trump administration angered. Trump himself was reportedly apoplectic and slammed the phone down on Johnson. But the prime minister has all of a sudden become much more sceptical of China since the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK. This already looks like a climb-down under pressure from the USA and provides a scapegoat for the UK’s awful handling of the Covid crisis – the worst in Europe and third-worst globally per million population.

Samsung and NEC are both now being considered.

In the meantime, two British banking giants – HSBC Holdings Plc, born in the 19th century as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and Standard Chartered Plc both endorsed the proposed new security law that the Johnson government is supposedly against. The two companies have the biggest banking operations in Hong Kong.

The big problem here is that Britain needs China, it needs the EU and it needs America in its post-Brexit world. Britain’s economy is set to do very badly, especially as a no-deal Brexit will do more harm in the immediate years following its exit.

 

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