China comes bearing gifts for better understanding

As the Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang visits the UK, Sonny Leong, publisher and chair of Chinese for Labour, reports on why Britain needs to work with China.

Sonny Leong is Publisher and Chair of Chinese for Labour

China’s Vice Premier, Li KeQiang, has arrived in Britain for a four-day visit, the last leg of his European tour following earlier visits to Spain and Germany. Li signed nearly £6 billion of business deals in Germany, £5 billion in Spain, and reaffirmed his country will buy Spanish government bonds. What will China invest or buy in Britain? So far, it has signed a £6.4m green energy deal in Edinburgh.

Cui Hongjian of the China Institute of International Studies told the People’s Daily newspaper:

“Britain needs China because it needs international investment and overseas markets to solve its economic problems – such as the low purchasing power as a result of its tightened monetary policy.”

While  Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, wrote in The Daily Telegraph:

“China is doing what a Chinese proverb says about ‘sending charcoal in snowy weather’.”

China will no doubt sign business deals whilst the Vice Premier is in the UK and David Cameron will announce such deals as a success of UK-China talks; but is that all there is to it – business deals?

Before 2008, China would not even consider prioritising solving the West’s financial or economic problems. It needs to prioritise its own economy. China is in the middle of a huge redeployment of its economy and needs to get employment and social balance right. This is what China’s leaders wake up thinking about – all day and night.

China shares her borders with 14 countries, she needs to focus on her neighbours who will fundamentally affect China’s stability and security. China has a long history of peaceful development, her people both long for a happy and peaceful life and enjoy harmonious relations with her neighbours. World peace is an important condition for China to achieve moderate prosperity, and China’s development in turn is conducive to world peace.

China is building a society where her people can receive education, get paid through work, have access to medical services, old-age support, decent housing, enough food and clothing and lead a well-off life. This is paramount and any distractions to achieving those basic needs are ignored. The West can try to understand them as they are and work with them. Finger pointing does not work, sharing experience is a much better approach, and usually more acceptable.

China seeks equal political partnership and mutual respect, economic partnership of mutual benefit and common development, cultural partnership of dialogue and mutual learning, and strategic partnership of close collaboration in international affairs. China will remain a conscientious global player in fulfilling international responsibilities.

China, as a major country, does not shirk its responsibilities. In recent years, it has arranged billions of dollars of debt relief for developing countries and it has contributed its share of peacekeepers. It has acceded to nearly 100 multilateral international conventions. It has made contributions to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the International Monetary Fund bail-out programme, the reconstruction of Afghanistan and disaster relief.

Businesses do want better relations with China to enable more access to the Chinese market. They will, nevertheless, find their own subtle ways to build businesses with China. Every country wants a bigger share of the Chinese market; China will accommodate them. Countries which share China’s growth with political parity, respect and trust will be the beneficiaries. Britain needs to be one of those countries.

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