By Dave Stevens.
In 1793, Britain despatched our first diplomatic mission to China, seeking trade. However, the head of the mission, Lord George Macartney, was happy to see it fail rather than kowtow as demanded to the Chinese Emperor. Placing pride and patriotism before profit. It is clear that today’s Prime Minister David Cameron has no such scruples.
His current mission to Beijing has been one long kowtow to the Chinese as Cameron has fawned and grovelled, begging China to “invest in” – i.e. buy up – large swathes of what remains of British industry, offering to let lots more Chinese into Britain, and promising to help China dump its cheap imports on the EU. Brussels compounded Cameron’s degradation here by contemptuously telling Cameron they would let him do no such thing. Whereupon plastic patriot Nigel Farage, Supreme Autocrat of UKIP, chipped in, denouncing British membership of the EU as an impediment to “free trade” with China, i.e. selling off even more of our country to the Chinese .
The Chinese own great chunks of our country already. Notably the infrastructure of our telecoms network, provided by rising Chinese IT giant Huawei. Interestingly, Huawei is just the sort of enterprise radical Nationalists have long espoused. It is a workers’ co-operative, 100% owned and run by its employees and pensioners. The company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, has the largest shareholding – 1.4%! The US Government won’t let Huawei into its telecoms market, fearing its systems have “trapdoors” enabling Chinese Intelligence to monitor telecoms traffic (not that the US ever does this – ask Edward Snowden!). Huawei denies this, but its worker-owners, as patriotic Chinese, no doubt would, and indeed should, co-operate with any requests to help from their nation’s security forces. Britain would be better learning from this Chinese success story’s system of ownership and control than selling our phone system to them.
The most annoying feature of all this, apart from a British Prime Minister publically degrading our nation abroad, is that the thing that has attracted him, Farage, and other free-markets spivs of that ilk, the success of the Chinese economy , is entirely built on our inventions and our technology. Which Western capitalists fell over each other to sell to them. As Lenin said, capitalists would bid against each other to sell their hangman the ropes with which they were to be hanged…,
Without the inventions, advances and Promethean drive of the white man, the yellow man would still be up to his knees in a rice paddy. It is true China invented lots of things first, but they never did anything with them. We did.
The Chinese invented paper and printing. But they used these to print ancient classics for a few scholars with foot-long fingernails to have read to them whilst their masses toiled in illiterate squalor. While we Europeans used these to mass produce books to spread knowledge and culture amongst an ever-more literate and educated populace.
The Chinese invented gunpowder. But they only used it to make fireworks. While we Europeans used it to make the cannon and firearms with which to conquer a planet.
The Chinese invented the compass. But they only once, briefly, used it to go anywhere beyond their borders – the explorations of Grand Admiral Zheng. In early 15th Century – explorations which were swiftly stopped by the Imperial regime. While we Europeans armed with their compass used it to explore the oceans of the world and then spread our conquerors and colonists across that world.
The Chinese did nothing with their inventions, stagnated, fell under foreign rule (the Emperor to whom Lord Macartney refused to kow-tow was not Chinese but a one of a dynasty of barbarian Manchurian conquerors) and fell apart. Until Mao Zedong, for all his faults, set them free and made their nation again proud and one. For which today’s China rightly honours him, not any more as a Communist but as a great Chinese.
Meanwhile Europe went on to discover the scientific method and combined that with mostly British engineering skills to create the Industrial Revolution that transformed a world.
We used their inventions. They didn’t.
Now the boot is on the other foot. Whilst Europe stagnates under its own stagnant Imperial bureaucracy, in Brussels rather than Beijing, and the US sinks ever deeper in debt, mostly to China, the Chinese economy and people motor ahead. They learn from us, without selling themselves to us.
Global corporations wishing to import manufactured goods to China can’t simply ship them in and sell them. Nor even can they build their own factories in China to exploit Chinese workers for their own profits. The Chinese Government makes them set up Joint Venture Partnerships with Chinese enterprises. The global corporations have to build factories in China and teach the Chinese not just how to work in but how to manage and run them, and the technology they use. When the Partnership expires, the Chinese keep the plant and the know-how, run by Chinese for Chinese. No doubt to sell stuff, not just cheap imports but quality manufactured goods they now know to make, back to the West.
China is on course soon to become the biggest economy on Earth. And its ambitions reach beyond. China now plans to return to the Moon white men abandoned 40 years ago. Not for a few publicity stunts, but to stay and to settle and to exploit its immense mineral wealth. Ultimately, as a springboard to the rest of the Solar System.
This time, the Chinese are using our inventions. We aren’t.
We should be doing so, rather than bowing and scraping for their hand outs. Which only earns their justified contempt. Chinese newspaper The Global Times dismissively responded to Cameron’s kow-tows by sneering that “Britain is no longer any kind of ‘big country’, but merely a country of old Europe suitable for tourism and overseas study, with a few decent football teams”.
Cameron’s antics in China put him lower than the 19th Century’s “drunken private of the Buffs”, who when captured with some Indian sepoys and commanded at gunpoint under threat of torture to kowtow to a Chinese warlord contemptuously refused .
As Sir Francis Hastings Doyle’s contemporary poem puts it
And thus, with eyes that would not shrink
With knee to man unbent
Unfaltering on its dreadful brink
To his red grave he went
As the poet rightly continues
Vain mightiest fleets, of iron fram’d
Vain, those all-shattering guns
Unless proud England keep, untam’d
The strong heart of her sons
Instead we sank to the level of Cameron and Farage.
It is time to get off our knees as the Chinese did. They were beaten down because they did not use their own ideas and inventions whilst others did. They have risen again, and we have fallen until we go to beg scraps from their table because they used our ideas and inventions while we no longer did. That must change. The Chinese are right to take pride, as they so clearly now do, in their Nation and Race. We must do likewise.