Image source, Getty Images
In diplomacy, there are words and actions.Frequent exchanges of rhetoric, prevent skirmishes from becoming warsHowever, difficult decisions with practical consequences often produce tangible responses.
This may be the case when the UK announces its highly anticipated plan to further restrict Chinese technology giant Huawei's participation in the construction of the UK's 5G network.At this moment, the constantly brewing Sino-British tensions may tend to heat up.
So far, China has not proposed specific threat measures.Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom, once warned the United Kingdom that if it treats China as an enemy, it must bear the consequences.
He pointed out that if Britain excludes Huawei from 5G construction, it "will damage Britain's advertised image of openness, commerce, freedom, and transparency", and it will also make the world think that "Britain is subject to foreign pressure" and cannot adhere to an independent foreign policy.Liu Xiaoming's "foreign" refers to the United States.
When asked whether Britain’s position on Huawei and Hong Kong’s National Security Act had any consequences, he refused to answer how Beijing would respond. "As for the specific consequences in which areas, we still need to see." He replied.
Sino-British Diplomatic Issues
Slow response is not uncommon.In terms of diplomacy, China has always been well-known from long-term considerations.
China knows that Britain's 180-degree turn on the Huawei issue is part of its extensive assessment of Sino-British relations, and this assessment is not yet over.The so-called "comprehensive assessment" of British foreign policy is underway, of which the rising China will be an important part.
Image source, AFP
Due to the global pandemic of the new crown virus, the British government will once again pay attention to China's impact on the British economy, not only in terms of pharmaceuticals or medical equipment, but also in other economic sectors.The British government has obtained the right to prevent Chinese companies from acquiring British companies and will further legislate. The British National Security and Investment Act is brewing.
The British Parliament urged the government at every stage to push for a stronger stance against China.For the British Conservative Party, a large number of new active groups have emerged, including the "China Research Group" and the "Huawei Interest Group".The Labour Party is also lobbying vigorously, and Lisa Nandy, the British shadow cabinet foreign secretary, called for restrictions on China’s investment in the country’s critical infrastructure, such as nuclear power.The Liberal Democrats hope that Britain will provide all Hong Kong people with the right to settle, not just those who hold British passports.
Therefore, the British policy towards China is still changing.China will wait to see Britain's final decision before deciding what price Britain will pay for its self-confidence.
China is also putting out fires in various ways.Its long-term confrontation with the United States shows no sign of ending, and anti-China sentiment remains the theme of the US presidential election.Recently, the United States imposed sanctions on several leaders of the Communist Party of China who violated the human rights of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Sino-US relations face the most serious challenges since the establishment of diplomatic relations, but he also mentioned the need for peace talks.
The relationship between China and Australia is also at a deadlock, which began with Australia's call for an independent investigation into the source of the new crown virus.Subsequently, China imposed taxes on Australian barley and banned the import of some beef.Currently, Australia has suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong and will relax visa measures for Hong Kong residents who want to leave.Australia also decided to increase defense spending by 40% in response to the growing threat from China in the Indo-Pacific region.
After China implemented the National Security Act in Hong Kong, New Zealand is also reviewing its relationship with Hong Kong, including extradition agreements and travel advice.
Image source, AFP
If these are not the global diplomatic issues facing China, we should not forget the first serious border conflict between China and India in decades.Of course, as China expands its military plans in the South China Sea, tensions between China and neighboring countries in the South China Sea continue.
The point is that the Huawei issue between China and Britain is not an isolated issue. It is part of the global confrontation facing the Chinese government.
Image source, Reuters
What will happen next?
Of course, to some extent, China is likely to honor some of the warning threats against Britain.China has many options, which may make it more difficult for British companies to operate in China, may impose sanctions on certain commodities, or may restrict or even reverse Chinese investment in the UK.China may also reduce the number of Chinese students coming to the UK.
The strength of China's counterattack may depend on some more specific decisions, such as whether they want to make Britain a model for Hong Kong and Huawei, so as to set an example.China knows that in the economic downturn after the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, the UK needs as much trade and investment as possible, and China may hit the UK hard.
Or China has more strategic considerations.How much does China hope for a full-scale confrontation?It is one thing to be more confident overseas and encourage domestic nationalism. When there is huge economic uncertainty, it is another thing to enter a period of long-term low-level tension with the West and the tension has always been escalated .
Image source, Getty Images
It is still discussing the establishment of a new D10 country group, including G7 countries plus Australia, South Korea and India, to fund technology companies to develop 5G technology to replace Huawei.
For many countries, the major strategic decision in the 21st century is how to strike an appropriate balance between maintaining relations and independence, defending their own values and protecting their economic and security interests in their relations with China.Although China has caused diplomatic conflicts on a global scale, it also has to make major decisions: how hard it wants to fight.
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