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by Jim Sillars
23 October 2015
Chinese visit to the UK is proof the British state is on its knees

Chinese visit to the UK is proof the British state is on its knees

I hope the Chinese state visit helped the penny to drop in Scottish minds, especially those taken in by the NO campaign claim that the Union protected Scotland due to the strength of the UK economy. In the book I wrote during, and the one written after the referendum, I sought to expose how flawed this claim is. None of my words could so starkly outline that truth as the level of kow-towing engaged in, because of absolute necessity, by the UK government to the Communist Party of China.

While the bowing and scraping went on, steel communities were being destroyed, with Chinese steel exports partly (but not wholly) to blame.  Steel workers were bewildered to see the London glitz laid out, where the word “steel” was studiously avoided. That the EU, with the UK involved, has taken anti-dumping complaints to WTO against China on High-Performance seamless steel tubes, (reported on 14th. October), was not mentioned. The possibility of extending the anti-dumping complaints to a wider product range, was like a state secret, never to be mentioned.


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The UK has £1.5tr of national debt, with £70bn to be added this year. The economy, bereft of inherent strength, is held up by consumer debt now at £1.47tr. An interest rate rise would beggar hundreds of thousands of families. The stark fact that over 3.3 million will face severe hardship with the loss of tax credits, taken together with the debt figures, shows how fundamentally weak the UK economy is.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of nuclear power stations, it cannot afford to build one because it doesn’t have any money. The boast by Osborne of attracting Chinese state investment in infrastructure is another way of saying they had no alternative to giving control of parts of the economy over to China. How grateful UK ministers were at the Chinese takeovers had a lesson in realpolitik – beggars are never choosers.

An alien from space viewing the pageant in London would have been astonished to learn that the host and visitor are both permanent members of the select five on the UN Security Council. One looked like the master and the other, bowing and scraping, like a lowly servant of an imperial court. 

Surely, after what we have witnessed, the truth laid bare of a state on its knees looking for a series of bail outs, is enough to convince Scots that “getting the strength of the UK around us” is pure myth?

China, run by the Chinese Communist Party, with around 76 million members, is doing nothing unusual, either in its policy of acting in a mercantile fashion, spreading its influence, creating client states, exercising an ability to reward some and punish others, and weakening potentially hostile alliances (tricky stuff for the UK to hold on to the special relationship with the USA, and cuddle up close to China).  That has been superpower practice since states emerged.  States which can remain outside its reach or influence, due to their own inherent strength, can resist superpower weight. The UK is demonstrably not in that class.

Because of UK imperial history, placing us in a lead position in world affairs, and the subsequent role as America’s chief supporter, we have felt free to lecture others on the merits of democracy and the role of human rights in society. Many feel offended that in China George Osborne was praised  for “human rights” never passing his lips, and that, during the state visit, certainly in public, this issue  did not feature prominently; and I doubt to any great extent in private (just enough to claim they raised it, I suspect).

It is a sobering fact that China is now so strong economically and with the Communist Party having not lost any of its grip, Western attacks on its human rights conduct will fall upon deaf ears. This is because the Chinese Communist Party has other imperative priorities. 

Unlike the Soviet CP, whose leaders always knew they lacked popular support, the CPC has a legitimacy based on two pillars – first, the 1949 success which ended the long dreadful years of Chinese humiliation at the hands of Japan, Britain and other Western states; and second, the creation of a powerful Chinese economy that has lifted 700 million people out of abject poverty, and put the country in a world leadership position.  

That first pillar of legitimacy still stands. It is the second pillar that all attention is paid to. The structure of the Chinese economy has to change, from a concentration on exports, to services and consumer demand, while purging its economic limbs from some very bad investment, based a great deal on massive corruption. Not an easy task. 

But if the Communist Party is to remain in power, that is the task it must successfully engage in. Its attitude of no let-up on its grip of society arises from what it regarded as the horror show of Gorbachev’s attempted opening up and democratisation of Soviet society, which led to the collapse of the party there, and a descent into a pillaging of the state’s assets by a new oligarchy. That won’t be allowed to happen in China, no matter how large the cascade of criticism about rights that flows from Western pens.

There will be great social strains and tensions within China as the economic structures are changed within a society where a new middle class now exists, and these are bound to  be reflected within the ranks of the Communist Party and its leadership, with internal struggles likely to develop. Maintaining party unity in public will be the aim. 

It was no accidental set of events that enabled Xi Jinping to hold the three top posts – General Secretary of the Party, the Presidency of the state, and Chairman of Military Command; and that one of his main lectures to the People’s Liberation Army commanders was their first loyalty lies, not to the state, but to the Communist Party. That is the reality behind the well dressed couple.   

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