FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Brexit: Britain’s Opening to China?

Assembling, then ruling a globe-girdling Empire over two centuries must have given Britain a peerless nose among Western nations for sniffing out the turning points of world affairs. This prescience seems to have continued long after the formal death of the British Empire.

That certainly was the case vis-a-vis China. Back in January 1950, Britain stunned the world by becoming the first Western country to recognize the fledgling People’s Republic, even as the People’s Liberation Army was still mopping up. Indeed, the Chinese themselves were so surprised that they spurned London’s request for formal ties, putting off the consummation for two decades. Two years ago, the UK once again led the West in joining the Chinese-inspired Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a spearhead for the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing’s megaproject to transform the EurAsian landmass. London’s decision spurred at least a half-dozen European nations quickly to follow suit.

Brexit surely presents another historic crossroads. Among other things, Britain’s exit from the European Union will mean looser ties and reduced dependence on Europe and the United States. More importantly, it will mark the first time any member of the US-centered Empire is able to distance itself from it — to any extent. That others might, once again, follow London’s lead, is perhaps the biggest nightmare for the Western elites who control the Empire.

For the savvy Brits, it’s clearly a time to rethink their position in the new world that is emerging. Though their country will retain extensive links to the old world dominated by the Empire, post-Brexit Britain will be freer than any constituent of the imperium to chart a genuinely fresh and relatively independent course.

Above all, that points East — especially to China, economic hope of the 21st century and potential first-among-equals in the emerging EurAsian order. Britain can have a strategic place in that project — as its natural end-point in the West. And now that Trumpist America has abandoned its role as chief advocate of global free trade and protectionist winds are blowing elsewhere in the West, Beijing and London can join forces to push in the opposite direction.

The signs are plentiful that Britain’s elites have been thinking along such lines, starting from the virtually unprecedented reception lavished on President Xi Jinping when he visited London late 2015. Principals range from Prime Minister Theresa May and the Royal Family to leading politicians and thinkers. The recent opening of the first direct train service from China to Britain, traversing 7,400 miles and ten countries, is perhaps a harbinger of the future.

As far back in the 18th century, Britain had also led the West in perceiving the vast opportunities in trading with China. Unfortunately, the imperialist mindset led London to pursue its objectives by force, producing the catastrophes of the Opium Wars and the Opium Holocaust. In the 21st century, a scaled-down UK has a historic opportunity to atone for those historical crimes against the Chinese nation. It can do so by simply reaching out to the Chinese in genuine friendship, participating constructively in BRI, and acting as an honest broker between China and the West. Today’s pragmatic leaders in Beijing would demand no more than that. If it materializes, such a scenario would spell win-win far beyond the two principals.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 25, 2019
Marc Levy
All My Vexes Are in Texas
Jim Kavanagh
Avoiding Assange
Michael D. Yates
The Road Beckons
Julian Vigo
Notre Dame Shows the Unifying Force of Culture, Grenfell Reveals the Corruption of Government
Ted Rall
Democratic Refusal to Impeach Could Be Disastrous
Tracey Harris
Lessons Learned From the Tiny House Movement
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Human Flourishing (Eudaimonia): an Antidote to Extinction?
Dana Johnson
Buyer Beware: Hovercraft Ruling Deals a Major Blow to Land Conservation in Alaska
Norman Solomon
Joe Biden: Puffery vs. Reality
Jen Marlowe
The Palestine Marathon
Binoy Kampmark
Lethal Bungling: Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings
Michael Slager
“Where’s Your Plan?” Legalized Bribery and Climate Change
Jesse Jackson
Trump Plunges the US Deeper Into Forgotten Wars
George Wuerthner
BLM Grazing Decision Will Damage the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness
April 24, 2019
Susan Babbitt
Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story
Adam Jonas Horowitz
Letter to the Emperor
Lawrence Davidson
A Decisive Struggle For Our Future
John Steppling
The Mandate for Israel: Keep the Arabs Down
Victor Grossman
Many Feet
Cira Pascual Marquina
The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune
Binoy Kampmark
Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli
Dean Baker
Payments to Hospitals Aren’t Going to Hospital Buildings
Alvaro Huerta
Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA
Colin Todhunter
As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?
Charlie Gers
Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Just Another Spring in Progress?
Thomas Knapp
On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Bolton
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail