On the eve of the first official visit to the UK from the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, various human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have promised protests in the capital, against human rights abuse, animal abuse and security risks. There are concerns from many that the UK is jeopardising its national security by allowing Chinese, state owned companies, to invest in British nuclear power. There could be a security risk due to the possibility of the Chinese investors ‘setting traps’ enabling the Chinese government to shut down UK nuclear power in the event of any diplomatic relations souring.
A similar state visit to the US in September also resulted in worries over security lapses from the Chinese government. Obama threatened to pursue sanctions against Chinese entities carrying out cyber-attacks whilst the President was visiting.
Cameron, on the other hand, has been referring to the ‘Golden Era’ of British and Chinese relations. He also does not believe that the ‘special relationship’ that the UK and US share will be harmed and simply wants to be a strong partner for China as their economy and power grows. He has given an interview on Chinese state television in which he said that the two countries would talk about trade, climate change and poverty; seemingly ignoring worries about human rights and security. He also stated that he believes Britain’s role in the EU is beneficial to Chinese trade and will result in a symbiotic relationship whereby the Chinese will invest in British infrastructure resulting in a healthier economy and more jobs, whilst in return China get access to a ‘leading member’ of the EU with contacts and roles around the world.
Ever the thorn in David Cameron’s side, Jeremy Corbyn has promised to raise human rights concerns with Jinping. However, he has only been offered a meeting at Buckingham Palace with the President before a state banquet held by the Queen on Tuesday night. The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said, the Chinese president is not here for debate on human rights and bringing up the issue at the banquet might not be very English.
Unsurprisingly, Xi Jinping, has praised Britain’s decision to ally with Beijing, being one of the few countries in the West to do so. This comes after George Osbourne visited China last month, after relations hit a low point in 2012 after Cameron met with the Dalai Lama. Xi is on his first official state visit as the President of China and is leading the first Chinese visit to the UK since 2005; he has promised to bring billions of pounds worth of investment in infrastructure to the UK.