The British government’s latest white paper on aid has explicitly raised the so-called concerns over China’s growing role in international development, while promising that the UK will resist the risks China “poses to open societies and good governments.” Such a move to characterize China as a “challenge” with profound prejudice is a blunt smearing and desperate effort by the former colonial power to maintain its global influence and tackle its own internal social and political divisions, Chinese analysts said on Tuesday.
The white paper smeared the Chinese development model with accusations on its drawbacks including “lower standards and limited transparency,” while underscoring the necessity for the UK to robustly challenge China, especially when British interests are endangered by China’s significant financial role, according to the Guardian’s report on the white paper, a brainchild of British development minister Andrew Mitchell,.
The white paper, published on Monday UK local time, claims that “between 2008 and 2021, China made $498 billion in loan commitments, equivalent to 83 percent of World Bank sovereign lending during the same period,” adding that “its increased assertiveness in seeking to shape the international order makes it essential for us to navigate the challenges that come with its evolving development role.”
Li Guanjie, a research fellow with the Shanghai Academy of Global Governance and Area Studies under the Shanghai International Studies University, found the hostile tone in the text “not surprising at all, as it marks simply a continuation of the China policy that the current conservative government of the UK adopts.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described China as the “biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity,” after the Group of Seven (G7) summit in May. And before that, Sunak made similar remarks, calling China “the biggest state threat” and “a systemic challenge for the world order,” during an NBC Interview in March.
Li Guangjie told the Global Times on Tuesday that such hostile remarks against China are desperate attempts to tackle its own crisis, showing that the previous colonial empire is deeply troubled by its waning global influence and has met problems in positioning itself in the current world, especially after the turmoil of Brexit.
The white paper indicates that the Sunak administration, with the recent appointment as foreign secretary of former British prime minister David Cameron, famous for his pragmatic China approach, still lacks determination to drive China-UK relations on the right track and dig them out of the current low tide, observers said.
It also suggested that the Sunak administration is in dire need of establishing an external stimulus to unite domestic forces and the Conservative Party, which is riven by internal divisions, as well as create headlines to boost public support in order to win the next general election, Li Guangjie noted.
Recent polling showed that as of early November, 47 percent of British adults would vote for the Labour Party in a general election, compared with 23 percent who would vote for the ruling Conservative Party.
“The goal of this white paper from the British government is to ensure that Anglo-Saxon nations continue to play a dominant role in the global development pattern, with intolerance toward any non-Anglo-Saxon nation assuming a leading position in the development pattern. Fundamentally, it’s a matter of leadership in world affairs. The UK finds itself unable to accept China playing a leading role in world affairs,” Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Opposing such an obsolete imperialist mentality, Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the UN, called on Monday for expanding the voice of developing countries in global governance, at an open debate on promoting sustainable peace through common development at the UN headquarters in New York City.
Peace, development and human rights are the three pillars of the United Nations, among which development is the master key to solving all problems and the foundation for promoting peace and safeguarding human rights, the Chinese envoy said.
Luo Zhaohui, chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, said in his address to the 2023 Tongzhou Global Development Forum on Saturday that “I can proudly say that China is the developing country that has implemented the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the fastest. We have eliminated absolute poverty, achieved the SDG’s poverty reduction target 10 years ahead of schedule, and fully built a moderately prosperous society.”
“As the world’s largest developing country, China’s rapid economic development is in itself a major contribution to global development. At the same time, it has accumulated valuable experience for other countries in implementing the SDGs, providing a feasible and replicable practical reference for the world to achieve modernization,” Luo remarked.
The UK might also intend to use the white paper as a reminder for the US, as relations between China and the US have significantly warmed after the leaders of two countries held a summit in San Francisco last week, observers said.
As the UK considers that its foreign policy and views on global landscape are more advanced that those of the US, the UK may tend to release a white paper like this to remind the US that Beijing is still a threat or competitor, so as to lead or mislead the US, amid warming ties between Washington and Beijing, Li Guanjie said.
Also the “limited coordination through the multilateral system, especially of bilateral instruments like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” is also mentioned in the white paper among listed drawbacks of China’s growing role in global development.
When asked to what extent the white paper could impact third parties around the globe, Chinese observers noted that most would keep their distance from such a malicious defamation of China’s role in global development, especially those who have participated in and benefit from the China-proposed BRI.