At a time when both China’s role in the world is becoming the focus of international business strategy and Brexit is pushing the UK to look to the rest of the world for trade and investment, Kerry Brown assesses the potential for a new “golden age” of UK–China relations.
For too long, Brown argues, China has been regarded with indifference by the UK, despite a well-established relationship stretching back some 200 years. Now, more than ever, Britain needs to actively engage with China and seek to understand China’s ambitions. This entails a radical change of mindset, vocabulary and attitude, as well as establishing a clear vision of what the UK wants from a resurgent global China, beyond trade and money.
Brown shows that our future relationship with China is deep with symbolic meaning and will have reverberations throughout the world, as either a sobering example of what a world run on Chinese values might look like, or as a model of how to successfully rebalance a sudden asymmetrical dependence on a newly powerful China. It is one, however, that requires the UK to question some of its own national myths and the story it tells about itself, as well as to learn about a new power with a very different history and set of values.