fredag 1. mai 2020

The Guardian view on resetting relations with China: times are changing

The pandemic has changed our view of the world not by bringing us radical, unsuspected insights, but by confronting us with uncomfortable truths we avoided before. That Chinese authorities suppressed the extent of the outbreak and punished whistleblowers is appalling but not shocking from the country with the world’s most sophisticated censorship apparatus. That they can be ruthless was equally obvious: in Xinjiang, a million or more Uighurs have been herded into detention camps, with little international protest. The difference is that this time the repercussions have been felt outside its borders.

It has accelerated the clear shift towards a more hostile view of China across the political spectrum, albeit fuelled in the US by outright hawks in the Trump administration. Hopes that China might one day pursue political reform have been erased by its increasing repression at home and hardball tactics abroad. Countries worldwide have been taking heed. The UK had already moved away from the “golden relationship” that David Cameron and George Osborne pursued with apparent indifference to the cost. Now senior Conservatives want a fundamental reset, while UK spy agencies are, more cautiously, calling for a reassessment.