Courage of UK business community should have shamed some politicians: Global Times editorial
Published: Aug 30, 2022 12:24 AM
A cargo ship docks at Greenock Ocean Terminal in the UK on August 27, 2022. It is the first vessel that arrives in the UK for the first China-Scotland direct sea shipping route. Photo: courtesy of Peel Ports Group

A cargo ship docks at Greenock Ocean Terminal in the UK on August 27, 2022. It is the first vessel that arrives in the UK for the first China-Scotland direct sea shipping route. Photo: courtesy of Peel Ports Group

According to British media reports, a direct sea shipping container route has been opened for the first time between China and Scotland. And soon, more than 1 million bottles of whisky will leave the west coast of Scotland to be shipped to China through this direct route. 

Affected by factors such as pandemic and supply chain chaos, global schedule reliability dropped to a new low of around 40 percent. But the opening of the direct shipping container service to China could not only almost halve the transit time but also provide new stability and certainty to Scotland's foreign trade industry. David Milne, managing director of Scotland's largest independent shipping and logistics organization, said it "could not have come at a better time for Scottish businesses."

As a matter of fact, although UK's political atmosphere toward China has entered a "freezing period," China-UK trade relations have remained warm. Even during the pandemic, high cost-effective commodities from China have supported the UK's fight against the epidemic and helped curb the rising prices while products from the UK have helped satisfy the diversified demands of China's consumer market. Statistics show that in 2021, bilateral trade in goods between China and the UK exceeded $110 billion for the first time. This has gone against the political countercurrent that trumpets "decoupling" from China, but it is in line with the general trend of strengthening economic, trade and people-to-people cooperation between China and the UK. In this sense, the new route between Scotland and China not only reflects the spirit of win-win cooperation, but also shows the courage to seek truth from facts.

Amid the noises of British politicians who are competing "who is more anti-China" in high profile, behind the quiet growth of China-UK trade is the real life that British companies and people can see and touch. Unfortunately, this is rarely reported by the British media. Instead, whoever scolds China the loudest will easily make headlines. This is quite abnormal and is creating a chilling effect and an atmosphere of terror in the UK business community. In recent years, many normal economic and trade cooperation has been forced to suspend due to inexplicable political reasons. Otherwise, China-UK trade could have been more prosperous, and the real feelings of the British people about the economy would have been much better than they are now.

Whether in history or in modern international relations, China has never owed Britain anything. Instead, Britain committed historical crimes against China when China was poor and weak. But now some politicians in London are expressing a strong hatred toward China, a country which has always been moderate. This is completely unreasonable. It must be said that behind the aggressive stance toward China is the UK's obedience to the US and self-deprecation. It was recently revealed in the British media that the UK banned Huawei not for "security reasons," but due to the objection of Matthew Pottinger, then US National Security Council's director on Asia, who shouted at the UK side "for five hours" after London expressed that Huawei was not a sufficient threat to the UK's national security. As a result, the UK's 5G rollout was delayed by up to three years and it would cost at least 2 billion pounds to remove all Huawei 5G equipment from its networks by 2027.

In recent years, the UK has become one of the few countries that most closely follow the US' anti-China policy. If Washington needs someone to act as a hatchet man against China, London is always on call. Indeed, the US-UK relationship is special, but London is losing itself in front of Washington. Under the circumstances of "Brexit" dilemma, weak growth and high debt, some British politicians still take ignorance as "distinctiveness," prejudice as "principle," using an anti-China approach to make profits. But such a gesture does not make them look braver, but only highlights their inability and weakness to solve the real problems. But where will this distorted political ecology, which is not good at building but good at destroying, take the UK?

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-UK ambassadorial diplomatic relations. The UK was the first among Western powers to recognize the People's Republic of China and to trade with it, the first to apply for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank membership, the first to issue sovereign RMB bonds and to appoint a special envoy for the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation. These rational and pragmatic "firsts" are the moments when the UK really had the dignity of a great power. Regarding the "cold wave" against China in today's political world, the courage of the UK business community in the face of pressure should have shamed some politicians.