Please show real courage, UK prime minister candidates: Global Times editorial
Published: Jul 27, 2022 12:22 AM
UK anti-China farce Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

UK anti-China farce Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

A scene with a touch of magical realism has emerged on the highest stage of British politics. The winner of the election for the head of Britain's ruling Conservative Party will become the country's prime minister. Conservative members will begin voting soon and will have time up to September 2. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak are in a tight final race. However, they are not competing on their ability to govern or respond to crises, but on their tough attitude toward China. 

It's not necessary to talk about Truss, who has always been playing tough on China. Even Sunak, who used to have a relatively "moderate" image, suddenly changed his attitude recently, calling China the "number one threat" to British and global security, and saying that he would take a series of tough measures to fight against China on his first day as prime minister. His remarks were so intense that even people who back Truss said it was "surprising." The remarks of both Truss and Sunak were not intelligent expressions, but mostly an emotional outburst. For the uninitiated, it is easy to feel confused when watching the debate between the candidates. 

It seems that Western politicians don't know how to campaign without riding China's wave, which is becoming a disease spreading among the politicians. The campaign in the UK is a severe version of this malady, as both candidates for this British domestic election are considering China, a country more than 8,000 kilometers away, as a threat, which surprises the UK media, including the BBC. 

In fact, it is quite difficult for the ordinary people in the UK to watch this campaign in a relaxed manner, because they are having a tough time with a large number of livelihood problems to be solved by the ruling party as soon as possible. Households in the UK could be asked to switch off their lights under government plans to avoid winter blackouts. British media reported that even cremation fees are rising rapidly, as a recent survey found that one in six families had significant financial worries over funerals. In the words of netizens, "people cannot afford to die."

The weak economy, people's livelihood undergoing difficulties, and high inflation - at a moment when the Conservative government's policy toward China is getting tougher and even irrational, these domestic problems have not been alleviated, but have become more prominent and serious. Doesn't this reveal real problems? Obviously, these bucks can't be put on China. Besides, was Boris Johnson forced to resign because he was weak on China?

It's impossible for Truss and Sunak to fail to see these obvious facts, or fail to see that "it's the economy." But they are still aiming at China, which not only reflects the toxicity of the entire British political landscape, but also shows that both of them lack the courage to face key issue. As they couldn't come up with a good way to deal with their real "enemy," they subsequently moved to "a safe battlefield to show bravery." This is a deception to the British people, as well as self-hypnosis. The question is, with the anti-China tune at such a high level, how will the two candidates continue to sing over the next month or so?

Everyone can notice that under the current distorted atmosphere toward China in the UK and the US, expressing "toughness" against China is the easiest, "safest," and cheapest. But actually it is very detrimental. Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK on Monday advised the British politicians that, "instead of offering solutions to the UK's problems, these irresponsible moves such as smearing China at every turn and clamoring for tougher stance against China will only further lead the UK astray." This is absolutely true.

Some more truths can be added. It has been hard to arouse our strong sentiments when we see the candidates of British prime minister looking desperate about China. It is more a mixture of exasperation, amusement, and a little pity for the British people. The UK is the birthplace of modern Western international politics, and it seems not to need the outside world to remind it of where its national interests really lie. There is a Chinese saying that, "What you have said is just like spilt water, and it cannot be taken back." British politicians had better remain sober and consider how they will be held accountable in the future, beyond the glare of the election campaign.