British Prime Minister David Cameron has finished up his China visit, and in just three days, he has made a clear appeal to the growing political power that the U.K. has full intentions of manifesting a lasting friendship. While Cameron may have done all the right things, like signing up for a popular Chinese social media account and meeting with local businesses, some people are still not convinced.
Writing in an op-ed in the Guardian, Cameron said his intentions were clear in visiting China for his second time as Britain’s prime minister. “I come with a clear ambition: to build a lasting friendship that can become a blueprint for future cooperation between our counties: a partnership for growth and reform that can help deliver the Chinese dream -- and long-term prosperity for Britain, too.”
“We want China to succeed,” Cameron continued. “Whether it is welcoming China’s investment in our nuclear energy sector, or creating a western hub for the Rebminbi in the city of London, we believe that the right way forward is openness, dialogue, trade and investment; working together for mutual benefit not against each other in a zero-sum game.”
As Cameron offers full support for China just a year after relations became tense as a result of Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, a religious leader and figure of Tibetan independence -- something China is against -- Chinese media has answered the British leader with skepticism. In an editorial piece in state-run Communist Party newspaper the Global Times, titled “China won’t fall for Cameron’s ‘sincerity,’” doubters question how the U.K. can be ready to forge relations with China when they disagree on arguably China’s biggest political issue, the ADIZ.
China is engaged in an ongoing territorial dispute with Japan over a cluster of islands in the East China Sea, known to China as the Diaoyu and the Japanese as the Senkaku. Along with economic growth comes political and military growth, and an agenda that China’s new president, Xi Jinping, has been pushing. Though Cameron has insisted that the U.K. is a champion of Chinese development, that doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation, the Global Times says. “Such an argument does not echo the real situation of China’s relations with Europe,” the editorial read, referencing a meeting yesterday between the British Royal Navy’s chief of staff, Adm. George Zambellas, and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera where the former expressed support for Japan’s stance against China’s recently declared Air Defense Identification Zone. “This has added doubts over Cameron’s sincerity in improving ties with China.”
Though Cameron’s trip was well-received by most of the Chinese public, bringing along members from the Premier League as a symbol of helping develop China’s own growing soccer fan base, the paper is not so quick to forget past disagreements. The editorial says that Beijing needs to ramp up its diplomatic clout among countries and “make London pay the price for when it intrudes into the interests of China,” like the Dalai Lama in the past, and now, the ADIZ.