Tag Archives: china

Do the Liberal Democrats know where Shenzhen is? And why it matters

Have you seen Gary Johnson forgetting ‘what’ Aleppo is? If not I’d recommend it. His baffled expression is hilarious.

But when you have finished chuckling, may I ask you a question? Where is Shenzhen?

My guess is most of you are now stumped. I only know because I once had to catch a train from Shenzhen station. Which is embarrassing because by one definition it is the 8th largest city in the world. It is adjacent to but several times the size of Hong Kong. Which, remarkably, is no longer among the twenty largest Chinese cities. And China is an enormous country in an enormous region:

Credit: Redditor valeriepieris

Credit: Redditor valeriepieris

Despite this the last Liberal Democrat manifesto includes more references to Israel – which has 0.001% of the world’s population – than to all the countries in the Asia-Pacific combined. And they are only mentioned in the context of advocating EU membership. There are (or have been) groups declaring themselves to be “the Liberal Democrat Friends…” There are the Chinese Liberal Democrats but they exist “to promote closer links between the Party and the Chinese and South East Asian community in the UK.” of Israel, Palestine, Kashmir, India and Turkey but not of China, Indonesia or Vietnam. Basically, if a Lib Dem says they care about foreign policy that usually means they are interested in Europe or the parts of the Islamic world somewhat adjacent to it. 

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Rennie: It’s time for answers on China deal

During the election, the Scottish Liberal Demcorats raised questions about a trade deal signed between the SNP Government and Chinese companies with dubious human rights records.

Willie Rennie has now stepped up his quest for more information by tabling  a series of parliamentary questions.

During the election it emerged that the China Railway Group, who own one of the companies involved, had been blacklisted for investment by the Norwegian government’s oil fund over corruption allegations and criticised by Amnesty International over forced evictions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The First Minister admitted that due diligence was not completed on the businesses involved in a deal that it is claimed could be worth up to £10bn. Scottish Government officials failed to respond to Freedom of Information requests from journalists on the deal ahead of the election last week.

Willie said:

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Rennie: Sturgeon must shred China deal after human rights warning

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie today said that the SNP risks dragging Scotland’s reputation through the mud following reports that a Chinese firm at the heart of a controversial £10bn deal with the Scottish Government is tied to human rights abuses.

It was reported in today’s Herald that Amnesty International named China Railway Group Ltd (CRG) and subsidiaries it controls in a report exposing human rights abuses related to the mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It had previously emerged that CRG had been blacklisted for investment by Norway’s oil fund over fears that the construction giant was involved in gross corruption.

Willie said:

The last thing that the First Minister did before the election started was sign a £10bn deal with a business directly tied to allegations of corruption.

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Hawks and doves: equidistant foreign policy?

Five years ago, the Liberal Democrats held the centre ground in the coalition formation negotiations between left and right. Equidistance is a loaded word, one that cynics will laugh at as vacuous. However, five years later, neither of the two main parties seem sufficiently interested in foreign affairs.

This party could be equidistant between doves and hawks in foreign policy. To illustrate the dove-hawk twin hybrid, below are three examples. I am not necessarily endorsing the following as solutions and they are not exhaustive in terms of detail. They are merely prompts for a debate.

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The Chinese are coming!

Vince in ChongqingChinese Premier Li Keqiang left on Monday this week on a 5 day visit to Britain and Greece.  With him, according to the press, is a 200 strong business delegation, expected to sign up some £18 billion worth of deals.

Just over 2 weeks ago, I was part of Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable’s business delegation to China, taking in 5 cities in 6 days.  Vince was scheduled to be in Beijing to attend UK-China Joint Economic & Trade Committee (JETC) talks with his opposite number, Mr Gao HuCheng, the Minister of Commerce.

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Nick Clegg attacks human rights abuses in China

Nick Clegg Q&A 12Yesterday we commented on Nick Clegg’s press conference in which he launched the first phase of the manifesto.

We did not then cover the comments he subsequently made about the visit by the Chinese Premier to the UK.

Nick is quoted:

We can’t ignore the large-scale and systematic human rights abuses which still continue in China to this day the very widespread use of the death penalty.

We have seen economic transformation on a scale possibly unheard of in the modern world where millions of people have become economically

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Jeremy Browne’s ‘Race Plan’. I’ve read it, so here’s my review…

Jeremy Browne bookThree points to make right from the start about Jeremy Browne’s new book, Race Plan.

First, it’s a wholly Good Thing that a Lib Dem MP is choosing to think aloud, to set out clearly his views. Nick Clegg having decided that he did, after all, like one of the Beecroft recommendations and decided to fire-at-will his home office minister, Jeremy could have slunk away, tail between his legs, to nurse his bitterness. He’s chosen a rather more constructive outlet for his disappointment. By which I mean this book, rather than his short-lived, C.19th-throwback, gap year beard.

Secondly, there is a fundamental problem with the central conceit of this book: that Britain is in a global race, and that if we don’t get fitter, we’ll be overtaken by or competitors in the coming Asian Century, fall behind, and become poorer.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarStevan Rose 23rd Oct - 12:03am
    It is shocking that a Belgian region can scupper trade deals of this kind. It's certainly not democratic for a tiny minority to hold the...
  • User Avatarfrankie 22nd Oct - 10:51pm
    El Sid Your point 4. The EU have made it clear that they’re not going to sit down and hammer out a deal that benefits...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 22nd Oct - 10:47pm
    @ EL Sid The EU has a tiny bureaucracy, but decision making is slow and difficult because of the need to try to bring every...
  • User AvatarAlistair 22nd Oct - 10:34pm
    Annabel, noone says the trade will stop. Merely that the terms of trade will be worse. Some things will be more expensive, others cheaper.
  • User AvatarAnnabel 22nd Oct - 10:19pm
    Paul W, you pointed out the stats in relation to trade between Canada and the US, and the fact that Canada's trade with the EU...
  • User AvatarAlistair 22nd Oct - 10:08pm
    If I had a Pound for every clown telling me about the Euro collapsing, just as the Euro soars against the pound, I would have...