Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) holds a welcoming ceremony for the visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron in Beijing, capital of China, December 2, 2013. Photo: Xinhua
The UK Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in China Monday, starting his three-day tour in the country. The once halted Sino-British relations, due to Cameron's meeting with the Dalai Lama last year, may see an ice-breaking. This year, China has been actively engaged in relations with Germany and France, which propels the urgency of the Cameron administration to end the chilliness of bilateral relations.
Some analysts say that the UK, France and Germany have reached an unwritten understanding on the issue of the Dalai Lama to provoke China. When the leadership of one country meets with the Dalai Lama, the other two countries develop ties with China.
Such an argument does echo the real situation of China's relations with Europe, especially when yesterday, the British Royal Navy's Chief of Staff, Admiral George Zambellas met with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and supported Japan's stance toward China's recently declared Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea. This has added doubts over Cameron's sincerity in improving ties with China.
Perhaps there is no need to talk about "sincerity" in terms of Sino-British relations. What Cameron does is out of his own political interest and the UK's national interest. His visit this time can hardly be the end of the conflict between China and the UK.
Beijing needs to speed up the pace of turning its strength into diplomatic resources and make London pay the price for when it intrudes into the interests of China.
China has gained some achievement in countering European leaders' moves of meeting with the Dalai Lama. China's strategic initiatives in its relations with Europe have been increasing. The UK, France and Germany dare not make joint provocations toward China over the Dalai Lama issue.
The Chinese government will surely show courtesy to Cameron. But the public does not forget his stance on certain issues. We know that the British government has been making carping comments on Hong Kong implementing universal suffrage for the chief executive's election in 2017. It also gives ulterior support for those who advocate opposition between Hong Kong and the central government. This has added to the negative impression the Chinese public holds toward the UK. Chinese people believe that if London interferes in Hong Kong's transition process of implementing universal suffrage, Sino-British ties can be halted again.
The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese. It is just an old European country apt for travel and study. This has gradually become the habitual thought of the Chinese people.
China has believed in "diplomacy is no small matter," while after years of ups and downs, we have acquired the strategic confidence that "diplomacy is no big matter." China will act accordingly given how it is treated.
Finally, let us show courtesy to Cameron and wish him a pleasant trip.