The UK's Misplaced China Policy

The state visit of China’s Communist Party general secretary, Xi Jinping, to the United Kingdom has had trappings that only Great Britain could deliver: a speech to the oldest parliament in the world, dinner with the queen at Buckingham Palace, and a visit to Chequers, Prime Minister David Cameron’s country retreat. More important, a Chinese state-owned company has gained entrée into the British nuclear power industry, a development that experts have warned presents a security risk.

The UK wants to become China’s “best partner in the West,” an objective set out by George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, who is taking the lead on China policy. Great Britain’s approach—engagement with a pronounced emphasis on trade, at the expense of human rights—resembles America’s policy of the 1990s, but with important differences.

First, the geopolitical situation is much changed. An economically and militarily powerful China is leading a challenge to the dominance of liberal democracy as a global norm. Second, the UK does not have the strategic responsibilities in Asia that the US does. 

- The remainder of this post can be read for free at Democracy Road, FPI Senior Fellow Ellen Bork's blog at World Affairs Journal

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