Are we kowtowing to China? Or has there been a change of heart by China towards us? A bit of both probably. When Gordon Brown was prime miniister he was only too willing to kowtow but the Chinese wouldn’t let him. He had to stop all that nonsense about China’s lack of human rights even though the country had rescued millions of peasant Tibetans from being one of the worst feudal cultures in the world largely owned by a handful of families.
But, probably, China’s change of heart has been the greater. George Osborne, the Chancellor, has just returned from a week in China (note once again that David Cameron is not the important member of the UK duo). Had Osborne wanted to go in the previous six years there was nothing to stop him. He must have been interested in China but his mind — his reading material — has always been strictly American.
Although we’ve had very little trade with China so far, the country has, in fact, invested more in us than in the rest of Europe combined. Which, considering how much trade China has with Germany is a little strange. Germany has rather burdensome rules regarding trade union representation on the boards of companies whereas this country has hardly any regulations at all. Perhaps this is why we are being favoured with China’s attention.
Anyway, what with a banquet in Buckingham Palace and a few days’ stay here, President Xi Jinping is beyond anything he’s received before, even by Russia. Obama shared his last visit with a concurrent visit by the Pope. This country has a lot of attractions for China. We host the main business and cultural language of the world, something all rich parents want their children to speak fluently. We have more than a proportionate share of the best scientific researchers in the world. China has had a green card system for many years now but so far it has had little success in recruiting any. Why not invest in them here?
We ought to be able to get some sense of what is going on in the next few days.