Caixin, China’s leading provider of business and financial news and information, published an analysis of China’s relations with Britain as compared to its relations with the United States. In the analysis, Caixin‘s reporter, Zhang Yuanan, who is based in Washington D.C., observed the different moods across the Atlantic surrounding Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s recent visits to the U.S. and then to Britain.
In terms of the achievements of Xi’s state visits, in Washington, both Xi and Obama announced a Fact Sheet. In London, China and the UK published a joint statement. Zhang took note of the ascending significance of fact sheets, joint statements, and joint communiques in China’s top leaders’ interactions with foreign heads of state.
At a time when Sino-British relations are entering a "golden age," Sino-U.S. relations have become more complex. Zhang held the view that Britain’s pragmatism originated from its understanding that Britain is not in a position to be openly challenging or rolling back China’s interests, while the United States is.
Zhang noted Britain’s track record in being practical in its foreign relations and pointed out the weak foundation of Sino-British relations, due to the lack of shared values. This will be especially so if China’s economy is losing steam, while the euro zone’s recovery picks up speed and the U.S. continues to boom, which would reduce Britain’s reliance on investments from China. The coming five or so years will provide enough time for Britain’s current administration to benefit from its warm relations with Beijing.
The relationship between Britain and China is primarily bilateral in nature. That Britain handles the relationship differently from the United States is not out of any fundamental difference in values, ideals, or interests between the two English-speaking countries. Zhang did not think that London’s more practical China policy, since it is not a core issue, would drive a wedge between Britain and its relations with the United States.
In contrast, the United States, as a world power, hinges its relationship with China on cooperation across regional, multilateral, and global issues. In other words, when the world becomes more chaotic, there is more room for Sino-US cooperation, which serves to offset any bilateral friction.
Source: Caixin, October 29, 2015