Enter The Chinese Dragon - and the start of bonded servitude: In our semi-detatched euro-positioning, our vulnerability to having the City isolated by jealous continental and American financial authorities, and our commendable centuries-old willingness to roam the high seas, we will always be inclined to 'trade our way out of trouble'.There is a lot of worthy wailing and gnashing of teeth about the sell-out on human rights: having no wish to be callous, but given the complete imperviousness of China in 2015 to anyone's views on that subject that seems to me a rather incidental, superficial symptom. (Did anyone raise the death penalty with Obama the last time he took tea with the Queen? You gotta love the Chinese ambassador's comment: "I think the British people are very gentlemen, very smart. They know how to behave on occasions like this … You think the Labour party will raise human rights at a state banquet? I don’t think so.")
Demeaning? Well let's rub it all the way in.
... Beijing would revel in the pomp and circumstance of this week’s visit. “They will be looking for horses and people in funny hats and meeting the Queen. That plays fantastically well back in China and they make big use of that to show how important the Chinese leadership is,” he said. “It also plays to the pitch that China is now being recognised on the world stage as a great power ... Beijing would be glad to deal with an increasingly compliant Britain. “The Chinese have dealt with the British for a long time ... they are practised at the brilliant complexity of British hypocrisy, and I think they are very comfortable dealing with that. This works well for them.”They also like the way we run snooker tournaments: so ordered and gentlemanly. Don't knock "brilliant gentlemanly hypocrisy" - hey, it's our USP! Osborne is a born arse-licker, I believe there are photos from his Oxford days ...
So yes, this is an inevitable development and the French always knew it: perfidious bloody Albion, with no ideological hang-ups and altogether more nimble and businesslike, has stolen a march on everyone else in Europe for some potentially quite tangible gains. And since the envisaged deals are materially in terms of infrastructure and the City, though they may fall over themselves trying to join us it's hard for other European countries to undercut us. (And by the way, monsieur, that nice Mr Xi may be part-financing your wretched Hinkley nuclear project for you, so bite your lip this time eh?)
Am I really waving my Union Flag and cheering as President Xi passes by? Not really: it's just inevitable. And the Chinese really do seek to establish relationships. And there's a lot we could do for them, if we think it through cleverly with sufficient eye to our own interests. And the City thing looks good: but then again the Hinkley thing, in particular, is madness. Back to that 2013 piece.
... the first of the mega-bargains our desperate UK politicians will enter in order to engineer short- and medium-term relief from our woes. Faustian is just one way to describe it. Another would be the PFI-ing of the UK economy to China. Future generations will curse Camerosborne roundly, as they pay grotesque prices for electricity and probably a great deal more. And the prices may not only be measured in currency. Bonded servitude may be the term we are looking for.Anything much changed from my views back then? Only that now we see Osborne intends this to be, not so much 'short- and medium-term relief' - though there's probably a measure of that for us - but his major long-term strategy. Maybe even his hedge against an 'out' vote in 2017. "In a rare interview, Xi praised Britain’s 'visionary and strategic' decision to position itself as Beijing’s best friend in the west." Wow. Clever old George.
As with the 20th century, it turns out the 21st didn't really get started for a decade and a half. Here we go for the Age of China. At least they appreciate gentlemen.