Great Britain’s foreign policy relations with China go back historically to the Opium Wars, the Unequal Treaties, the Crown Colony of Hong Kong and its return to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. Under David Cameron and Theresa May, GB was still engaged in the general engagement of the West with China, David Cameron declared the Asian Pivot for GB, as Obama had already done, emphasizing that future economic growth will no longer be generated in Europe, but in Asia and especially China . Even when relations clouded, GB was still the pioneer in Europe, especially when it allowed Chinese investments in its infrastructure and nuclear power plants, asit as the first Western and European country participated in China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while the USA and the former colony India clearly positioned themselves against the New Silk Road. Now that Trump came to power in the USA, the Sino-American trade war escalated and the USA also demanded a clearer positioning of its allies in this dispute, London’s foreign policy line also changed under Boris Johnson. Especially since GB would no longer be part of the EU after the coming Brexit, it is now hoping for a particularly advantageous trade agreement with the US, which nobody knows whether it will come. Trump met Nigel Farage and supported Brexit because it weakens the EU and Germany and GB hopes that it will now be able to establish its own Anglo-Saxon zone for a Global Britain with the Commonwealth and Australia, Canada and New Zealand and special relations and secret service cooperation Five Eyes.
GB also wants to open a naval base in Singapore in addition to the USA to defend the freedom of the seas, which also means that it does not support China’s maritime claims in the South China and East China Seas. While German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s proposal to send German warships to the Indo-Pacific went unnoticed, the British are unfurling their flag in the Asian Pivot.
It remains to be seen whether Brexit-GB will also boost the second stage of neoliberalism and Thatchernomics and turn the island into a huge taxhaven and a European Cayman Islands or Virginia Islands with complete privatization, dismantling of the welfare state, privatization of the health system and other areas, complete deregulation of the financial sector, low wage area and libertarian slim state power. Whereby the US wouldn’t mind. but was mainly concerned about the Good Friday Agreement / Belfast Agreement, which Bill Clinton had negotiated so laboriously in 1998 and which became the cornerstone for peace in Northern Ireland and an economic boom for the Celtic tiger, especially since many US companies and high-tech firms have established their headquarters in almost tax-free Ireland.
The new anti-China policy of Trump-USA, the democracy movement in Hong Kong and now the national security laws, which de facto also mean the end of the 1 country, 2 system, also brought GB to a more anti-Chinese policy. GB has now excluded Huawei and announced that it would accept up to 3 million Hong Kong residents in the kingdom should the case require it, which Beijing responded with angry protests. GB also signed a trade treaty with Japan which it wants to be a role model for other trade deals with the USA, the EU and China. GB also wants to use Japan and other Asian countries to diversify its engagement and to reduce the dependence on China. Nevertheless, it is interesting that the Chinese People’s Daily proudly announces that parts of the City of London are now entering into a cooperation with the Shanghai Stock Exchange, which is intended to mobilize Chinese capital for fintech companies in the UK, and to give China access to British financial markets which would also enhance Shanghai’s role as a financial center compared to Hong Kong. In addition, GB is still a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), British capital continues to flow happily in China´s New Silkroad and, alongside Frankfurt, London has so far been center for offshore renminbi trading as an element of the internationalization of the Chinese yuan. It remains to be seen how the US will react to this action by parts of the City of London, which could well be seen as a small stab in the back for US anti-China policy. Here is the article by Renmin Ribao: