Let the great kow-tow begin — again. David Cameron, the new UK foreign secretary, is well-known for his attempt to create a “golden era” in Anglo-China relations when prime minister. This essentially meant turning a blind eye to Chinese misdeeds and espionage on the condition that Beijing kept pumping money into the British economy.
But it’s his China-related activities out of office that invite even more scrutiny, especially now that he’s back in government.
Just a few weeks ago, in September, the former prime minister flew to Sri Lanka to speak in support of Colombo Port City project, a controversial venture that is meant to establish Colombo as a Chinese-funded rival to Singapore and Dubai. China critics fear that, as with Gwadar in Pakistan, Colombo will become a security risk as China expands its reach across Asia.
Cameron’s office said his Colombo visit was organized by the Washington Speakers Bureau, a DC-based agency that books guest speakers for corporate events. In July, however, the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said that Cameron’s role as vice-chair of the £1 billion China-UK investment fund and the appointment of former chief secretary to the Treasury in Danny Alexander as vice president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was “part engineered by China.”
The ISC accused the China-UK leadership for completely mischaracterizing China’s determination to invest in the UK to gain global technological dominance for the Chinese Communist Party. As Bob Pickard, the global communications chief of the AIIB, put it quite plainly when he resigned from the group in June:
The bank is dominated by Communist Party members and also has one of the most toxic cultures imaginable. I don’t believe that my country’s interests are served by its AIIB membership.
Happy to be gone from that cesspool. The Communist Party hacks hold the cards at the bank. They deal with some board members as useful idiots. I believe that my government should not be a member of this PRC [Chinese] instrument. The reality of power in the bank is that it’s CCP from start to finish.
Lord Patten, the former Conservative Party chair, told the committee: “I think they [China] probably think we are not entirely reliable useful idiots… I think they regard us as an economic opportunity and as an opportunity to, through elite capture, through the cultivation of useful idiots, through playing on things like the ‘golden age’ of British-China relations, getting us by and large corraled into doing the sort of things they would like us to do.”
It couldn’t be, could it, that Lord Patten, who knows a thing or two about how China operates, was referring to the new foreign secretary?
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.