A lucrative post-Brexit UK-China trade deal has been flushed away. And Britain could have up to 3 million Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong on their way. But no one wants to hold the prime minister to account.
Perhaps in an ordinary week, the Chinese takeaway just ordered by Boris Johnson would have attracted more attention from the so-called mainstream media and their political echo chamber in the scarcely functioning parliament.
But there’s been too much going on. Police officers “took the knee” before protesters in Whitehall (who then bombarded the prime minister’s residence in Downing Street and attacked the same police, a detachment of whom literally ran away).
And Black Lives Matter protests shredded whatever was left of the government’s social distancing regulations.
So the gigantic developments in UK-China relations passed by with little comment and unopposed – indeed the Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy tacitly endorsed them.
Some of the very same anti-EU politicians who have made a career by warning of the dangers of mass immigration, of closed-off immigrant communities which could scarcely speak English, of the role population growth had played in creating the Brexit storm, have just threatened China. If it passes a law in its own country, Britain will open its doors first with “renewable visas,” and then a “path to citizenship” for up to 3 million Hong Kong residents.
The mass media, veterans of a thousand anti-immigration front pages, scarcely even reported it.
And when China – denouncing this gross interference in its internal affairs – threatened condign retaliation (almost certainly the cancellation of the post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries), the government went “fine” and the media said “meh.”
Seldom can a moment so important have gone so unnoticed.
Picking a fight with China
Yes, Britain – having alienated the countries of the European Union with whom it still wrangles over post-Brexit arrangements – and having effectively broken relations with Russia – has now picked a fight with China. And if we WIN, we are rewarded with the biggest ever influx of foreign migrants from a single place at a single time in our island’s history.
By comparison, after the British-sponsored dictator Idi Amin expelled Asian citizens from Uganda, some 27,000 of them came to the UK.
Britain has been ever-reluctant to listen to the Last Post of Empire, even though in my lifetime that has been confined to repressing people in the six counties of the northeast of the small island of Ireland in which the flag still flies, gunning down Johnny Arab in Aden and extorting princely potentates in the Persian Gulf.
To imagine a last British stand against the world’s biggest population, biggest army and soon the world’s biggest economy is, for me, a Charge of the Light Brigade too far. But it’s happening. Even if you pull a balaclava over your face as you ride once more into the guns.
In the ultimate of ironies, the Chinese police continue to stoically suffer the slings and arrows of Western-sponsored riots without a single death among the protesters, while US cops shoot and slay apparently at will even though they know the whole world is watching.
The British – who would never have given a single Hong Kong Chinese a “path to citizenship” during the 150 years we ruled the territory – somehow imagine that taking three million Chinese off Beijing’s hands will bring China to heel.
Memo to Whitehall: the Chinese will NEVER “take the knee.” The days when you could cut the heads off in China are gone forever.
By George Galloway