UK not big, just old travel destination, Chinese paper says

‘POWERLESS’::The state-run paper said Beijing should make London pay for interfering with China’s affairs, referring to Hong Kong and the Dalai Lama


Wed, Dec 04, 2013 - Page 7

Britain should recognize it is not a “big” power, but “just an old European country apt for travel and study,” Chinese state-run media snapped yesterday, as British Prime Minister David Cameron visits.

“China won’t fall for Cameron’s ‘sincerity,’” the headline of the sharply written editorial in the Global Times newspaper said, after Beijing was outraged by Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.

It had led to a diplomatic deep-freeze between the two nations, but on Monday, Cameron met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) in Beijing, where he signed a series of trade deals, before holding talks with President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Cameron has kept human rights firmly to the sidelines during his time in China, but the Global Times said his three-day visit “can hardly be the end of the conflict between China and the UK.”

“Beijing needs to speed up the pace of turning its strength into diplomatic resources and make London pay the price for when it intrudes into the interests of China,” the editorial said.

China denounces the Dalai Lama — who says he only wants greater autonomy for Tibetans — as a dangerous separatist.

“The Chinese government will surely show courtesy to Cameron. But the public does not forget his stance on certain issues,” the paper added.

The editorial also criticized London’s interference in the “transition process” of Hong Kong, a British colony before 1997 which is due to adopt universal suffrage to choose its chief executive in four years’ time.

It warned that “Sino-British ties can be halted again” over the issue.

“The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese,” it added.

“It is just an old European country apt for travel and study,” it said.

A more conciliatory editorial appeared in the China Daily, which said Cameron’s visit will help “pave the way for bilateral ties to flourish.”

“The ups and downs in their ties show it is crucial that the two countries respect each other’s core interests, handle their differences in a proper and acceptable manner and look forward to the future fruit of their cooperation,” the editorial said.