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  • Jul 29, 2014
  • Updated: 4:57am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 4:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 4:36am

Beijing must start challenging opinion

David Cameron has missed his chance to get even with Beijing. Didn't the British prime minister see Scottish separatist Alex Salmond shaking hands with State Councillor Yang Jiechi in Beijing and promising to make China a key economic partner if Scotland gains independence?

"When Scotland becomes independent … there won't be a difficulty. We shall be encouraging and welcoming," said Scotland's first minister.

The Chinese people must be salivating over those single malts and smoked salmon. But Beijing, of all governments, should be alert to the political sensitivity over the coming independence referendum in which the Scottish people will vote on whether to end their political union with the United Kingdom after more than 300 years. By Chinese standards, Cameron ought to be jumping up and down and screaming, "Bloody foreign interference!" - unless, of course, there is no such sensitivity from London.

Salmond, however, is clearly aware of Chinese sensitivity. Last year he braved criticism when he refused to meet the Dalai Lama. He declined to comment when asked about it during this trip. You can understand why China looms large over the Scottish economy. Salmond has just ended a five-day trade visit in which 30 Scottish firms signed deals worth £40 million (HK$498.5 million) and hobnobbed with top executives from CNOOC and Sinopec, two major oil investors in the North Sea. Salmon exports to China have jumped by 88 per cent in five years.

Non-interference has been a cornerstone of China's foreign policy. It is a perfectly valid and defensible principle. But it's foolish and counterproductive to denounce others for interfering as the default response; far better to engage your opponents in open debate. Beijing has legitimate interests in Hong Kong's political developments; its foreign policy usually has clear and justifiable rationale, including its position on sea disputes with neighbouring states. But it needs to argue for its stance and must know the world is already prejudiced against it. Its self-righteous rhetoric is often self-defeating.

Western countries understand the need to confront and address world opinion. China must do the same if it is to have a fighting chance in this diplomatic game.

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This article is now closed to comments

scmpbeijing1
The world is prejudiced against China? Really Alex? Is that what you think? Maybe it's time you stopped mindlessly repeating cliches that you hear Chinese officials saying. This is not mature analysis. Why would the world be prejudiced against China? What's the logic here? This is really absurd.
honger
"Maybe it's time you stopped mindlessly repeating cliches that you hear Chinese officials saying. "
Ur statement here shows you are prejudiced against China.
321manu
"By Chinese standards, Cameron ought to be jumping up and down and screaming, "Bloody foreign interference!" - unless, of course, there is no such sensitivity from London"
---this is the gulf China needs to traverse before it can be considered a grown-up.
"But it's foolish and counterproductive to denounce others for interfering as the default response; far better to engage your opponents in open debate."
---precisely. Otherwise, it's just incessant whining. The problem is that the presumption that Beijing has a good argument for her position may be unfounded.
chuchu59
AL is right in saying that its counterproductive to denounce others for interfering as the default response. It becomes wearisome over time. Its there is a valid argument, make it known and voice it out in no uncertain terms. Beijing needs to train people who can debate with others over issues such as non-intervention. The same old 'hands-off' approach wont work on the global stage.
lexishk
"its foreign policy usually has clear and justifiable rationale, including its position on sea disputes with neighbouring states" - perhaps I missed the column where Mr Lo shared this rationale with his readers?
realestate
Chinese Govt does not have legitimacy with its own people as its rule is forced upon them under the Communist regime.By the outside world it is seen as a repressive govt with no transparency lacking trust and openness, the Chinese govt is looked upon with suspicion around the world. Its role in the South China Seas is one example of imposing itself rather than resorting to civilised diplomacy, its role in HK affairs is also not welcomed too kindly either. Rather than be seen as felxible and pliable in world affairs it is seen as stiff and unaccomodating .It is best if it follows a state policy of non-interference
dienw
Scotland : a role model for Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia?
likingming
And then Taiwan, 滿洲, 四川,Canton, HK, Macau, Shanghai ........
johnyuan
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johnyuan
I appreciate both AL and PCC’s comment. There are lessons both offered and to be learned. Every step must be walked with eyes opened.

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