The UK’s lazy reliance on China has gone on too long, according to Simon Heffer in an article for the Telegraph. Britain must wake up to the danger and adopt a radically different approach across a range of policy areas if national security is not to be permanently compromised.
The extent of Chinese influence is astonishing. On trade and investment – the trump card which successive Prime Ministers have played in relation to China - most of it goes one way, and not in Britain’s direction:
“Total trade in goods and services between the UK and China reached £93bn by the end of 2021. China is our third largest trading partner, accounting for 7.3 per cent of our total trade: it is our second biggest importer, and sixth biggest export market.
Yet Britain invests much more in China (£12.9bn) than China does in us (£3.4bn, a figure decreasing 21.5 per cent yearly). It recalls the situation in Berlin on the eve of the Great War, when German businessmen pleaded with the Kaiser’s advisers not to start a war that might involve Britain, because the City of London was mainly responsible for financing the economic miracle of the Second Reich.”
A breakdown of the figures betrays the range and extent of Chinese penetration into Britain:
“We are increasingly reliant on China for office machinery, telecoms, clothes and consumer goods. Business services account for 45 per cent of imports in the services sector. Around 865 UK-based companies are Chinese owned, including UK Power Networks, which provides electricity to 8.3m homes. Chinese investors have a UK business and property portfolio worth £135bn.
Their sovereign wealth fund has just bought an 8.68 per cent stake in Thames Water, our largest water and sewerage company. A Hong Kong based company owns Felixstowe, our busiest port. We are not yet at the stage Germany finds itself in after Angela Merkel’s insane decision to rely on Russian gas, but parts of our economy and infrastructure are dangerously dependent on the indulgence of Chinese businesses with close links to the autocrats who run China. They even own 64 of our care homes."
Nowhere has reliance on Chinese investment been greater than in Britain’s higher education sector where leading universities, including Cambridge, have behaved like lapdogs in return for huge donations:
“The outgoing vice-chancellor, Stephen Toope, whose tenure was shortened not least thanks to his philosophical struggle with freedom of speech and academic freedom, has been a long-term supplicant to Beijing. He oversaw a partnership with Nanjing Centre of Technology, and another with Tsinghua University ‘to tackle the urgent challenges faced by humanity’, challenges that exclude shutting down democracy and persecution.”
The lesson is clear:
“One priority for the new prime minister will be to appoint a Foreign Secretary and an International Trade Secretary who will not kowtow to the Chinese. A policy of urging British businesses to consider, for strategic reasons, other suppliers for goods and services would be entirely prudent.”
The full article can be read below with a link to the original here:
CREDIT: FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA / POOL /EPA POOL