How China could turn off Britain’s lights by Clive Hamilton for UnHerd 25.01.21

Updated: Mar 9, 2021

Clive Hamilton is professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra and the co-author of Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World.


Here is the text of the first page of his article:


In any future war between Britain and China, the winner could be decided in a matter of hours — and Britain is unlikely to be the victor. For years now, Chinese businesses have been quietly positioned at the heart of British infrastructure. Were a conflict to erupt, their employees could, willingly or otherwise, be mobilised by Beijing. In fact, they would be legally compelled to.


What could this mean in practice? To put it simply, if he were so inclined, President Xi Jinping could, at the flick of a button, turn off the lights at 10 Downing Street — not to mention freeze Britain’s financial system and paralyse its hospitals.


Perhaps that’s why there has been such a concerted effort by British politicians in recent weeks to address their country’s dependence on trade with Beijing. These efforts are certainly well-intentioned, but as someone who has spent years charting China’s silent campaign of global interference and subversion, I fear they could be too late. In my recent book, Hidden Hand, my co-author Mareike Ohlberg and I detailed the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to Western democracy. Here, for the first time, a small but disproportionately concerning new aspect of that can be revealed: how China is slowly taking over Britain’s nuclear power and electricity systems.


On the face of it, you could be forgiven for wondering why Chinese investment is so troubling. Why should we care that its businesses are investing in Britain, when those from other countries — including a number of unpleasant ones — do the same? The answer is straightforward. China is different because its businesses can be, and are, used as an extension of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Referred to as a “party-corporate conglomerate”, there is a deep intermingling of China’s business elite with the “red aristocracy” — that is, the Communist Party families that rule the nation. Even President Xi, who pledged to crack down on corruption following the CCP’s 18th National Congress in 2012, has family members with secret offshore bank accounts and hundreds of millions in assets squirrelled away.


The article can be read in full by downloading this pdf file:

Article for UnHerd by Clive Hamilton 25
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