A senior Chinese leader has cancelled a proposed trip to the UK, a British Embassy spokesman in Beijing has confirmed to the BBC.
China’s chief legislator Wu Bangguo – officially second ranking in China’s hierarchy – is on a tour of Europe.
Sources say the cancellation came after China learned that British PM David Cameron planned to meet the Dalai Lama.
Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met the Dalai Lama in London earlier this month.
At the time, China’s foreign ministry said the meeting had “seriously interfered with China’s internal affairs”.
Mr Wu, who is chairman of the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress, has held talks with EU leaders including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on his current tour of Europe.
BBC China Correspondent Damian Grammaticas said the cancellation of Mr Wu’s visit was a clear signal of China’s displeasure with the UK.
He said it would have been a “brief but symbolic” visit from the most senior Chinese to travel to the UK in recent years.
China warned of “serious consequences” at Mr Cameron’s decision to meet the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism.
But Downing Street said he was “an important religious figure” who had met previous British prime ministers.
The Dalai Lama lives in exile in India, travelling the world to seek support for more rights for Tibetan people.
He is regularly vilified by the Chinese government, which accuses him of trying to split Tibet, with its separate culture and language, from the rest of China.
According to the Guardian newspaper, a spokesman at the British embassy in Beijing said the cancellation of Mr Wu’s visit was a matter of “regret”.
“There was a proposed visit by Wu Bangguo which has not happened.
“We very much regret that chairman Wu was not able to travel to the UK. His visit would have been a good opportunity to continue deepening UK-China relations. We would welcome future visitors from the National People’s Congress to strengthen the UK-China dialogue,” he added.
Speaking as a free Chinese person who is born and bred in the western world China continue to harbor ill feelings towards the Dalai Lama meeting of Tibet is not on.
Even so, it triggered immediate criticism from China, which called it an “affront to the Chinese people”, and launched “solemn representations” with London.
The Tibetan leader, who fled his homeland for India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, announced last year that he was giving up his political role and would focus on spiritual duties.
Nonetheless, Beijing has repeatedly accused him of trying to split Tibet from the rest of China and encouraging Tibetan protesters in the vast Himalayan region to set fire to themselves – a charge he denies.
A total of 34 Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, are reported to have set themselves on fire in China’s Tibetan-inhabited areas since the start of 2011 to protest against Beijing.
The true meaning of China translated into English is called our land. I do take issue with the Human Rights Abuse in China as there has been very few coverage and both previous and present Governments in the western world fails to address this with the Chinese Government when they visit China.
Some will may argue that China does not have any rights over Tibet I would say to those who says this to revisit the history and you will see that Tibet is on two sides of the boarders which connect China and India.
I would like to see more action taken against the Human Rights Abuse in China than talk as talk is cheap and action speaks louder.
Hidden in the news pages Tuesday, 26 July 2011 Cameron warned African states over China’s ‘authoritarian capitalism’, claiming that it is unsustainable in the long term.
The Daily Mail reported,
In possibly the most critical comments made by a modern British Prime Minister about China’s growing global influence, Cameron admitted the West is increasingly alarmed by Beijing’s leading role in the new ‘scramble for Africa’. On the last day of his tour of Africa, he acknowledged at Nigeria’s Lagos Business School that he was keen to counter the ‘Chinese invasion’ of Africa. He said: ‘I believe the model of authoritarian capitalism [in China] we are seeing will fall short in the long term.
Trade between Beijing and Africa was worth £70billion by the turn of this decade. It was worth £4billion ten years before. Trade deals with more than 40 countries have been signed, including Uganda, Kenya and Algeria. China also provides billions each year in loans to states on the continent, extending their political as well as economic influence.
Foreign aid to Africa has been part of China’s strategy since the end of World War II. Through joint efforts of both sides, cooperation has been developed in ever-expanding fields and with increasingly richer contents.
“This is a new strategic partnership. There is no colonial history between Africa and China, so they are well received here. There is no psychological bias against the Chinese.” Tsegab Kebebew, a senior official in Ethiopia’s foreign ministry, who was speaking to the BBC in Beijing recently.
Africa needs China’s investment and appreciates China’s development of it’s infra structure. For an outsider like Cameron to make such ill-conceived speeches shows a distinct lack of understanding of China-Africa relations and the changing political weather.
Mark Hendrick, All Party Parliamentary China Group Chairman in his Parliamentary Question stated,
£1.4 billion-worth of trade deals were signed between China and the UK. After his visit to the UK, Premier Wen went to Germany and signed deals worth £9 billion, which is six and a half times the value of the deals signed with the UK. There were 13 Chinese Ministers in Berlin signing deals with 10 German Ministers. The Economist described the UK visit as a “sideshow” compared with the German visit. What is the Government doing to make sure that the UK does not play second fiddle to the Germans when it comes to economic partnership with China?
Indeed, with Cameron hurling insults at the Chinese at every opportunity, it is little wonder our trade deals are nothing compared to Germany and France.
Chinese companies must be wondering why they should invest in the UK or buy UK goods and services when its Prime Minister offends them with contemptuous rudeness. Such short sightedness is dangerously harmful to the UK economy and potential growth.
During his visit to Europe, the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, repeated the position that China was a long-term investor in Europe. China has increased the purchase of government bonds of some European countries. In addition to acquiring European government debt, China is also using foreign exchange reserves to finance investments by Chinese companies. This helps to promote the country’s multinational corporations, which is the goal of the “going global” policy, the linchpin of China’s growth strategy.
According to consultants Dealogic, Chinese firms have acquired stakes in 33 UK companies since 2008, acquisitions totalling almost £12bn. In the period 2010-2011, Chinese companies invested in 59 projects, creating 1,471 jobs according to UK Trade and Investment. China was the seventh-largest investor in the UK, one position lower than the previous year.
The Chinese Ambassador in the UK, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming in a statement earlier this year said that the negative media coverage of Chinese investment “serves no point and does not help expand cooperation between the two countries”. He also remarked,
We do, from time to time, come across some difficulties and problems. I think a lot of things need to be done by the British side, in terms of further improving the investment environment for Chinese businesses.
For the United Kingdom to benefit from China’s rise would require an in-depth understanding of China’s aims and political constraints. For starters, whoever is advising the Prime Minister on the relationship with China should be given the boot, otherwise Cameron’s desire to double bilateral trade to US$100 billion by 2015 will be nothing but a dream.