On the evening of the 25th local time, British Foreign Secretary Cleverley delivered his annual speech at the Mayor’s Residence, a historic landmark in London.
Usually, the British Foreign Secretary will elaborate on a series of foreign policy issues in this speech, but the governor of Chang’an Avenue (WeChat ID: Capitalnews) noticed that Cleverley’s speech, in addition to a slight mention of Sudan and the evacuation of citizens from Ukraine , generally focused on China, and even mentioned China 65 times in the speech.
It is not so much an annual foreign policy speech as it is the British government’s China policy announcement. It is the clearest display of Britain’s attitude towards China after British Prime Minister Sunak took office.
‘Britain must engage with China’
Not long ago, Cleverly made the absurd argument that “the Taiwan issue is not China’s internal affairs” in an interview. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said that the British Foreign Secretary should obviously make up for his history lessons.
Cleverly made it all the way to “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, and he came prepared for this speech.
In his speech that night, Cleverly said that the premise of formulating a policy toward China is to recognize the depth and complexity of China’s historical civilization.
“China is one of the few countries that can be traced back more than 2,000 years…After every period of turmoil, China always rises again.” He said, “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a classic Chinese history The opening is described like this: The general trend of the world, the long-term division must be united, and the long-term unity must be divided.”
He pointed out that in the past 20 centuries, China has been one of the largest economies in the world. In 1820, China’s GDP accounted for one-third of the world, more than the sum of the United States, Britain and Europe. In the past few decades, the Chinese people have achieved the largest and fastest economic growth in history by virtue of their enterprising spirit, lifting at least 800 million people out of poverty.
Therefore, he believes that no words such as “threat”, “partner” or “rival” can properly describe China. The UK’s China policy cannot be summed up in one sentence or one word. It is impossible and inappropriate to do so. Practical and even more unwise.
Cleverly believes that China, the United States and the West can avoid falling into the “Thucydides Trap”, because from climate change to epidemic prevention, from economic instability to nuclear proliferation, abandoning dialogue with China cannot solve any major global problems .
“Let me declare some kind of new cold war and say our goal is to isolate China, it would be easy and it would please some people, but that would be wrong,” Cleverly said. “It would be in our national interest.” Betrayal, but also a deliberate misunderstanding of the modern world.”
Cleverly put forward three “pillars” of China policy, namely, to strengthen the protection of national security in exchanges with China; to deepen ties with allies and partners such as the United States, Japan, India, and Australia; to conduct direct bilateral and multilateral contacts with China , to maintain and create open, constructive and stable relationships.
He said that the UK will be committed to establishing a more level playing field with China and is interested in continuing to benefit from Chinese investment. “We have allocated resources to establish a new British embassy in Beijing. I am determined to reach an agreement with the Chinese side so that this work can continue.”
holding an outdated script, reading old lines
After studying Chinese history, Cleverley’s speeches still contain clichés such as human rights, freedom and international obligations, and the Charter of the United Nations and the Sino-British Joint Statement to put pressure on China. The so-called human rights issues related to Hong Kong are obviously intentional and have ulterior motives.
Cleverly said that China should fulfill its obligations to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and the UK has the right to speak out and take actions. In addition, China should not regard the words and deeds of the UK on Xinjiang-related issues as interference in internal affairs.
On the Taiwan issue, he claimed that Britain’s long-term position is to hope to see the differences between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait resolved peacefully, and to oppose any party taking unilateral actions to change the status quo.
In this regard, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press conference on the 26th that the world today is deeply integrated and multiple challenges are superimposed on each other, and countries need to cooperate to deal with it. Bloc politics and the Cold War mentality go against the general trend of history and are not in the interests of all parties, including the UK. China has always developed its relations with the UK in the spirit of equality and mutual respect. However, the UK side insists on sticking to the rules, holding outdated scripts and reciting old lines. In the end, it can only be farther and farther away from the progress of the times.
With regard to the Hong Kong issue, the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration involving the British side have been fully implemented. The British side has no sovereignty, governance or supervision over Hong Kong, and there are no so-called “rights” and “responsibilities”. Xinjiang’s economic development, social stability, religious harmony, cultural prosperity, and people’s living and working in peace and contentment are obvious facts. The British side turned a deaf ear to this and turned a blind eye to it. It has ulterior motives to insist on slandering and discrediting Xinjiang. The status quo in the Taiwan Strait is that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China. The biggest threat to Taiwan’s peace at present is the separatist activities of “Taiwan independence” and the connivance and support of external forces. If the UK wants to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, it should strictly abide by the one-China principle and resolutely oppose separatist acts of “Taiwan independence”.
Mao Ning reiterated that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang issues are purely China’s internal affairs that allow no external interference. The Chinese side urges the British side to be prudent in its words and deeds, stop groundlessly accusing China and interfering in China’s internal affairs, and do more things that are conducive to the development of China-UK relations and world peace and stability.
The Appearance of “Smart Separation” and the Essence of Chaos
If Cleverly thinks that he has understood Chinese history by reading “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, then his understanding is obviously too superficial. What’s more, he didn’t read through this historical novel alone. You know, the last sentence of “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” is: There are endless things in the world, and the number of days is boundless and inescapable.
What is “number of days”?
The governor of Chang’an Avenue (WeChat ID: Capitalnews) noticed that Cleverly’s speech mentioned the trade and investment between China and the UK in a large part, and clarified the huge opportunities for cooperation with China by citing examples, which is in line with the current situation in the UK. Economic distress is closely related.
The UK’s main exports are services, especially financial services. Services are more dependent on good relations between countries than manufacturing exports. If the world is torn in two by bloc rivalries, Britain will be torn in two too.
If some British politicians think that “confronting China” will increase the UK’s influence on the world stage, they clearly have no idea how the UK economy was built and what happens to countries that fall into eventual stagnation and decline.
Cleverly was well aware that these words “would not please certain circles in London”, and even delivered a rather harsh rebuke to the China hawks in British politics by making it clear that he did not want a new Cold War.
The “Financial Times” analyzed that the reason why Cleverly called for the establishment of a constructive relationship with China was to suppress the Conservatives who were hawks towards China.
The British government has been stuck in a hawkish-dominated mode for the past few years, and Cleverley is trying to shift the narrative back to a middle ground: while acknowledging the importance of strengthening exchanges between China and the UK, he stubbornly reiterated some “politically correct” rhetoric to Achieve balance.
This kind of “smart” double-faced remarks exposed the confusion of the British government’s China policy. Regarding the positive part of Cleverly’s statement, we should listen to his words and more importantly watch his actions.