Yesterday, the UK introduced that it was including itself as a celebration to a World Commerce Organisation (WTO) dispute between the European Union and China, as a part of a rising row between Beijing and Lithuania over the launch of a Taiwan consultant workplace within the Baltic nation.
China has successfully positioned a de-facto commerce embargo and secondary sanctions regime on Vilnius, and whereas EU heads of state have been reluctant to be too vocal in confronting Beijing, Britain’s controversial Overseas Secretary Liz Truss has now positioned herself on the coronary heart of the matter.
She accused China of “financial coercion” – a buzz phrase which has gained foreign money among the many media and political courses to explain Beijing’s retaliation in the direction of international locations hostile to it, similar to Australia.
🇬🇧 and our companions 🇪🇺 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇱🇹 will proceed to prepared the ground in calling out China’s financial coercion. Collectively we are going to stand as much as these makes an attempt to undermine freedom and democracy. https://t.co/kdloAYISEz
— Liz Truss (@trussliz) February 7, 2022
Some may think about the transfer one thing of a shock, on condition that Britain has now left the EU. Nevertheless it speaks volumes concerning the course of Britain’s international coverage since Brexit – and since Truss was appointed international secretary – which has more and more embraced the concept of nice energy nostalgia and Anglophone exceptionalism. The shouting match over Lithuania particularly suggests Britain is successfully turning into a proxy for American international coverage targets inside Europe, and is getting used as a instrument to disrupt the bloc’s relationship with China.
For the reason that finish of World Struggle II, the story of Britain’s international coverage is one among contradiction, to place it mildly. It’s the story of a declining empire, which has repeatedly did not be reasonable about its place on this planet, and this has manifested itself in its fixed tilting between the US and Europe.
The so-called “particular relationship” with America embodies the nostalgia of empire, the idea within the supremacy of Anglophone capitalism, clashing with the extra mundane actuality of Britain being in Europe. This has created longstanding disorientation, starting from Charles de Gaulle’s rejection of Britain’s entry to the bloc on the premise of its relationship with the US, to Euroscepticism and Brexit itself.
Now empirical nostalgia has gained. Upon leaving the EU, the UK has reinvented itself as International Britain. As Brexit talks got here to an finish in 2020, the UK reoriented its international coverage to align much more intently to the US’, embracing the anti-China rhetoric espoused in Washington, contemplating itself a Pacific energy and sending plane carriers into the South China Sea.
With this has come the concept of the EU being much less of a accomplice, and extra of an financial and strategic competitor. The UK has engaged in a number of rows with France over fishing rights and actively undermined Paris additional with the controversial Aukus deal, all whereas edging nearer to different Anglophone states such because the US and Canada.
With that, Britain seems to have positioned itself as a pro-US, anti-China proxy in Europe: a participant that may undermine the EU’s relationship with Beijing, to the good thing about American pursuits. One good instance is how the UK, through the BBC, actively helped to undermine the EU’s complete settlement of funding (CAI) with China in early 2021.
As my analysis has demonstrated, the BBC operates in keeping with the pursuits of the British international workplace. Within the interval from the top of 2020 onwards, when talks have been being concluded between Brussels and Beijing, the BBC started publishing articles on the Xinjiang area in China at a really aggressive tempo. This included items similar to “China’s tainted cotton” in December 2020, and the pushing of accusations of rape and sexual abuse in internment camps in February 2021.
This escalation in BBC Xinjiang content material coincided with a United Nations handle by then Overseas Secretary Dominic Raab on the matter, which subsequently constructed as much as coordinated sanctions by the US, UK and the EU, inflicting China to retaliate and prompting MEPs to freeze the CAI. Britain had been concerned, ever so subtly, in setting an agenda on human rights designed to disrupt engagement with China.
Now, Liz Truss is positioning the UK to grow to be a number one and vocal determine on the Lithuania dispute. Whereas this has a twin function – serving the anti-Russia and anti-China agenda – it once more factors to Britain partaking in a method on each fronts that solidifies American pursuits on the continent.
The UK is keen to interact with Europe, however to all intents and functions it sees the EU as a political and financial rival which is working towards Britain’s nationwide curiosity. Its assist for Lithuania is meant to dam France and Germany’s means to interact with each Moscow and Beijing.
Nonetheless, Truss’s claims of “financial coercion” from China are fanciful. Whereas it’s true that Britain’s personal sanctions regime has grown in sophistication and scope, and might unquestionably trigger financial harm to a rustic, the terminology utilized paints China in a uniquely damaging gentle, merely for doing what the US has all the time performed on a a lot better scale. By no means are US-led sanctions referred to, in any media dynamic, as “coercion”– but Britain beneath Truss has embraced this controversial time period, and is hurling it round recklessly.
Has Beijing introduced Lithuania to the brink of hunger, as US sanctions have performed to Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and plenty of extra international locations? The reply, in fact, is not any. Nonetheless, for Britain to again Lithuania’s authorities in its extremely provocative international coverage serves quite a few ideological and strategic targets. Brexit has shifted the geopolitical dynamic of the continent radically, and the UK is now in impact America’s “regional policeman,” just like Israel within the Center East, Japan in Asia and Colombia in South America.
The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the writer and don’t essentially symbolize these of RT.