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Politics & Law

UK-China relations depends on tactics Boris Johnson will adopt


Boris Johnson, as the Mayor of London, in Beijing 2008 (photo from Zimbio)

The prospect of the UK-China relation, according to the analysis of the ‘UK in a Changing Europe’, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and based at King’s College London, is that:

“ … the UK will be left out if the EU is able to negotiate more favourable access for European companies to China’s markets.

“Some have argued that leaving the EU would create the opportunity for the UK to negotiate its own trade deal with China, based explicitly on UK, rather than EU interests …

“… However, critics of this view warn that because of the relatively small size of the UK market, China may remain more interested in negotiating with the EU, leaving the UK out in the cold unless it agrees to less favourable terms than might otherwise be secured through the EU.”

There are so many variables for predicting the consequences of Brexit, hard or soft, that no one is able to accurately foresee what may happen. As Theresa May’s deal with the EU which was molded under the heavy influence of the British business has failed to materialize, the next prime minister, Boris Johnson, will definitely present another version to the world.

Johnson is not friendly to China. So, the UK-China relation is likely to turn sour in the short term.

However, what determines the medium and longer terms will be, alongside with the risk of Scotland’s secession, how Johnson leads the Conservatives to compete with the Labour Party and also the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The competition for power in the next parliamentary election, its process as well as its final outcome, through a series of reviews and revaluations, will practically form the 3-D shape of Britain’s China Policy after its departure from the EU.

At this moment, my guess is that, due to Brexit, the two-party politics in the UK may gradually become a multi-party mode (e.g. many Tory members switch to the LDP, the growing influence of the nationalists, etc) thus causing political instability and frequent policy swings, and finally becoming not so hostile to China.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

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About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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