First published: Prospectmagazine.co.uk, 20/10/2015
Both countries need to be aware of significant political uncertainties
Drum roll. President Xi Jinping is in town for a state visit, and we are going to make him feel very welcome. He is staying at Buckingham Palace, he will address Parliament and he will hold meetings with both major parties’ leaders. But why is he coming here of all places?
The last time a Chinese head of state came to London on official business was in 2005, when Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao came. Back then, there were prickly demonstrations by human rights protestors, but the government gave Hu the red carpet treatment, even bathing iconic London buildings and landmarks in red light at night. This week, Xi will be treated with even more reverence—ostensibly quite surprising given that China’s most important peers or priorities are the US, Japan, Russia, India, and in the EU, Germany. But our bilateral relationship has been getting stronger just as China’s relationship with the US has been getting more strained, with disputes over computer hacking and limits on US firms’ access to Chinese markets. Senior US politicians are wondering why the UK is cosying up to a country that is already its geopolitical rival….Read more: