周二,鲍里斯·约翰逊(Boris Johnson)宣布当选英国新首相。这一事件对中国,包括香港和华为,都将产生重要影响。约翰逊的目的,是想把英国变成美国的第51个州——但是没有投票权 !

部分中国媒体错误地认为,英国脱欧是英国内政问题,对中国不会产生重大影响,或者错当约翰逊为“地主家的傻儿子”,在此,我有必要纠正这一点,并且谈谈约翰逊当选英国新首相和英国脱欧对中国的影响。尤其是,近期香港骚乱事件中外部势力的介入,解释了英国为何会在其中扮演了如此挑衅的角色。

约翰逊正在将英国全面变成美国附庸

脱欧派如何将英国从中国的“欧洲桥头堡”变成美国的“反华马前卒”

目前尚未平息的香港骚乱有一个显著特点,那就是是英国在其中所扮演的角色——频频干涉香港事务,尤其是近来的事件中更是对香港事务指手画脚。中国驻英国大使馆和中国外交部,均对此作出了强烈回应。

很明显,在攻击中国时,美国和英国是各有分工——美国挑起对华贸易战,英国则是对香港事务指手画脚。但正如下文所示,表面现象掩盖了事实。英国对香港的挑衅性政策,是配合美国动作来进行的——这不是性质上的区别,而是技术性分工。

部分香港示威者在游行队伍中打起了美国国旗

英国目前所扮演的挑衅性角色尤其引人注目,因为这与几年前卡梅伦担任英国首相时的中英关系“黄金时代”的情况形成了鲜明对比。当时,英国不顾美国的反对,成为首个加入亚洲基础设施投资银行(亚投行)的G7国家。中国国家习近平对英国进行国事访问时,获高规格接待。当时,英国遵照1997年的交接,基本上避免了对香港的挑衅干预。但是,近年来英国却改变了这种姿态,我们该如何解释这种变化?这种变化与鲍里斯·约翰逊成为英国新首相后又有着什么样的关联?

这个问题的答案在于英国脱欧背后的国际形势——这根本不是纯粹的英国国内政问题,而是将对中国产生重大影响。卡梅伦推动中英关系“黄金时代”,与他所代表的强烈支持英国留在欧盟的英国商界人士有直接的关系,他是英国脱欧的强烈反对者——卡梅伦完全反对2016年英国脱欧公投,后因脱欧公投通过而被迫辞职。在他的政策框架下,卡梅伦从英国民众和资本家的角度出发,制定了一个高度理性的战略,将英国打造为中国进入欧洲的桥头堡。

英国在推行卡梅伦的这一战略上有很大优势。伦敦是欧洲最重要的金融中心,领先于纽约成为世界上最大的外汇交易中心,以及世界最大人民币离岸交易市场。英语也是大多数中国公民学习的第一门外语。因此,对于许多中国企业来说,去英国投资和开设企业比在德国或法国容易得多。英国是一个非常重要的电信中心,卡梅伦在任时可以确保华为参与英国这一重要市场。

卡梅伦访华时与成都小学生一起打乒乓球

从2000年到2008年这八年期间,我负责制定伦敦的经济政策,与伦敦的金融公司举行了多次会议,因此我亲身体会到他们是多么重视与中国的关系。一则轶事体现了这一点——这是伦敦商业圈的一个笑话:中国春节与欧洲圣诞节相隔的时间太近,以至于伦敦的金融公司从业人员在赴席参加许多庆祝圣诞节的大餐之后,还得马不停蹄赴席参加更多的庆祝春节的大餐。而这对他们来说非常不幸,因为在一年中的那个时候,控制体重是不可能的!

因此,从经济层面上来说,卡梅伦的战略对于英国资本家和经济发展极为有利。随着中国企业海外扩张步伐的加快,他们认为可以把英国作为进入欧盟的跳板。除了已有的作为欧盟金融中心的强有力地位之外,英国还可以从中国的投资中获益——这对英国和中国来说都是一个货真价实的双赢结果。

但要推行这样的战略,卡梅伦显然需要与中国保持良好的关系。这就可以解释,为什么在“黄金时代”卡梅伦极力避免卷入干涉香港事务。但是,卡梅伦的经济政策对于那些想阻止中国发展的美国人来说,是完全不可接受的。

尽管大英帝国昔日辉煌早已不在,但英国仍是世界主要经济体——GDP位列全球第六,英国企业技术水平较高,伦敦是美国以外世界上最重要的国际金融中心。因此,虽然英国与中国建立双赢关系,有利于英国,但这对美国反华人士是不可接受的,这就是为何美国强烈反对英国加入亚投行的原因。英国脱欧让美国等来了全面破坏英国与中国良好关系的好机会——鲍里斯·约翰逊在这一点上的关键作用,最终使他成为首相。

新首相鲍里斯·约翰逊:特朗普的“最美代言人”

以往美国全力支持英国保持欧盟成员国身份,是因为英国被美国视为可以影响欧盟政策的可靠盟友。但特朗普上任后改变了这一政策,转而支持分裂欧盟。因此,他支持英国脱离欧盟,并与脱欧势力建立密切的关系。

美国对欧盟政策的这种变化,符合特朗普的整体国际战略。奥巴马对华战略是试图组建一个广泛的反华联盟——为实现这一目标,美国就必须要对其盟友做出妥协与让步,其中包括与欧盟保持良好的关系。

但特朗普认为,美国不应做出这样的让步,反而向其盟友索要更多的资源,以便增加美国对付中国的实力。因为德国不愿意通过增加国防开支和接受美国加征关税将其资源转让给美国,且德国在欧盟占据主导地位,因此特朗普得出结论:要削弱欧盟,就要寻求支持英国脱欧。这与特朗普对付中国的战略一脉相承。为实现这一战略,特朗普与脱欧势力建立了密切的关系。如下图所示,特朗普当选总统后会见的第一位英国政治家并非来自执政的保守党,而是英国脱欧党领袖奈杰尔·法拉奇(Nigel Farage)。

特朗普与法拉奇

而新首相鲍里斯·约翰逊是符合特朗普战略的完美人选。他出生于美国,既是美国公民,也是英国公民,尽管他的政治生涯在英国,但直到2016他才放弃美国国籍。约翰逊的政策是唯美国马首是瞻,比如他支持美国入侵伊拉克。

约翰逊对中华文明极度贬低,他曾经写道:

“中国的高精技术和艺术,几乎都是全盘模仿西方。中国优秀的钢琴家的演奏技艺,也是模仿舒伯特和拉赫玛尼诺夫。中国芭蕾舞演员选用的乐谱源自迪亚基列夫。中国本土人士获得贝尔奖数量为零,当然也有大批聪明的中国人想方设法逃往斯坦福和加州理工大学。

世界各地都有唐人街和外卖,但在英国,中国烹饪的影响与印度次大陆相比相形见绌。

……与英国发明的包括乒乓球在内的无数项运动相比,很难想象在奥运会上有哪怕一项中国运动。我想让你们知道的是,乒乓球起源于(英国)高级餐桌。

……中国汉字如此复杂,以致于中国人无法生产适合汉字的键盘。

……至于中国的军事力量——硬实力——我们的恐惧恐怕有点过度。虽然中国拥有250万军人,但对于一个世界大国来说,只有20枚远程导弹可以使用,可能只会是一场短暂的烟花表演。”

一个坚定支持美国,极度贬低中国的人,当然是特朗普的理想人选,因此他不遗余力地公开赞扬约翰逊。

约翰逊当选后,特朗普第一时间用推特“发来贺电”

“脱欧”拉锯战背后,英国的“水”有多深

2016年英国脱欧全民公投通过后,亲欧盟和亲美的英国首都部分地区爆发了激烈的冲突——相信这样重要的问题是由民主投票决定的,相信输掉了公投的权力和资本力量可以轻松接受结果,不过是天真的幻想而已。

卡梅伦辞去首相职务后,但他的继任者是在2016年脱欧公投中支持英国留在欧盟的特蕾莎·梅(Theresa May)。她的战略构想是将英国从欧盟的政治体系剥离开来,但仍留在欧盟更重要的经济体系——欧盟海关联盟。她的主张受到英国财政部长哈蒙德等政府要员的支持。特蕾莎·梅要达成这一战略构想,就要与欧盟达成协议,但从技术上讲,特蕾莎·梅的构想有一个漏洞,就是这得英国保证北爱尔兰和爱尔兰之间不会存在经济边界。为了避免这种情况的发生,要么在北爱尔兰和英国其他地区重设实体海关,而英国政府是不会同意这一点的;要么是英国作为一个整体留在欧盟海关联盟内——这是特蕾莎·梅设想的脱欧协议的真正目的。

特朗普完全不能接受这一政策,因为对他来说,最重要的是英国脱离欧盟的经济体系(欧盟海关联盟),签订由美国主导的贸易协定。只要英国仍留在欧盟海关联盟内,那么其将就等于留在由德国控制的经济体系内,并且无权与美国签署单独的、依附于美国经济的贸易协定。

因此,特朗普支持保守党内部的亲美势力,以及脱欧党领袖,拒绝支持特蕾莎·梅与欧盟达成协议。为呼应这一策略,约翰逊向特蕾莎·梅政府辞去外交大臣职务。由于受到保守党内大部分人士的反对,特雷莎·梅提出的脱欧方案在议会未获通过。同时,在与特朗普的密切接触中,法拉奇开始组建支持特朗普的脱欧党,以在选举中威胁保守党——在2019年5月举行欧洲议会选举中重创了后者。面临内部长达三年之久的内忧外患——保守党内部的逼宫和法拉奇等党外人士的选举威胁,特雷莎·梅被迫辞职。

5月24日,宣布辞职的特蕾莎·梅一度哽咽

排斥华为、干涉香港——约翰逊也搞“美国优先”

但英国内部亲英与亲美资本之间的激烈冲突,必然将对中英关系产生重大影响——这不仅将关系到香港事务,而且也将关系到华为。

作为与中英关系黄金时代战略的一部分,亲欧盟的卡梅伦允许华为大力参与英国基础设施建设,以便从华为的技术专长和具有竞争力的价格优势中获益。当时,卡梅伦还在唐宁街10号首相官邸会见了华为创始人任正非。当然,卡梅伦的这一政策不仅有益于华为,而且也令英国经济获益非浅,因为华为为其电信基础设施建设提供的解决方案包含最先进的技术、最具竞争力的价格优势。

卡梅伦会见任正非

在亲特朗普势力的攻势下,特雷莎·梅放弃了卡梅伦执政时期与中国构建中英关系黄金时代的策略,但仍然允许华为部分参与英国电信基础设施建设。因此,5月份英国政府削减了华为对英国电信基础设施建设的参与——禁止华为参与5G移动设施的“核心部分”,而“非核心部分”可使用华为产品。但对于特朗普/美国来说,这还远远不够,因为特朗普/美国希望华为完全排除在英国5G系统建设之外,就如美国全面禁止华为参与美国电信基础设施建设一样。

为达到特朗普/美国这一目的,特雷莎·梅政府内亲美势力设计阻挠华为参与英国5G建设。其中一件特别臭名昭著的事件,是英国国家安全委员会(National Security Council)允许华为“有限参与”英国5G建设的会议泄露——这种极为机密的机构的信息遭泄漏在历史上尚属首次。英国国防部长因这一史无前例的泄密事件而被解雇。

在将华为排除参与英国5G建设的“核心部分”之外取得部分胜利后,美国开始加大压力,要求华为完全退出英国5G建设。实际这一目标的关键步骤,是英国退出欧盟海关联盟,那么它就可以与美国签订贸易协议。正如英国《星期日电讯报》(Sunday Telegraph)就英美贸易谈判细节遭泄漏指出:“唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)的谈判代表们表示,下一任首相希望与美国达成脱欧后贸易协议,但这取决于他是否愿意接受美国针对中国电信巨头华为的强硬政策。

《星期日电讯报》以白厅为消息源报道,接近跨大西洋贸易谈判事务的英国官员认为,如果英国允许华为为新的5G移动网络提供设备,谈判将很有可能破裂。

脱欧结果将决定英国是否继续在香港问题上挑衅中国

随着英国政府内部持亲美和脱欧立场的反华势力日益增长,英国政府罔顾香港回归的事实,频频对香港事务指手画脚,挑衅中国政府。英国政府在反华的道路上越走越远的原因是,英国政府内部持亲美和脱欧立场的反华势力日渐增多,他们完全推翻了卡梅伦执政时期与中国建立中英关系黄金时代的政策,转而支持取代特雷莎·梅的英国新首相鲍里斯·约翰的政策。

因此,可以看出,部分中国媒体认为英国脱欧只是英国内政问题,与中英关系和香港事务无关的看法是大错特错。相反,英国在香港事务上挑衅中国,加大对华为的攻击力度,与围绕英国脱欧背后展开的斗争,有着千丝万缕的联系。

考虑到约翰逊所依仗的力量,他的政策是唯美国马首自瞻 。概括来说,就是他的政策是让英国像哈巴狗一样听从美国指令行事,或者把英国变成美国的第51个州 ,即便没有投票权!正如英国主流报纸《每日电讯报》(Daily Telegraph)在为约翰逊竞选首相造势的题为《约翰逊打算在入主唐宁街后第一时间访问美国,以确保与美国达成脱欧后协议,以及重建与特朗普的关系》的文章中指出:

“这位前英国外交大臣已经准备一赢得领导人竞选就飞往美国,确保在10月31日脱欧后与美国迅速达成一项有限的贸易协议。

‘整个事情的关键是美国。如果我们能与美国达成协议,就可以非常快速地达成其他协议。这将鼓励其他国家意识到我们的商业意义。’约翰逊的同僚说道。”

英国驻美国大使金·达罗克近来因备忘录泄露而被迫辞职,印证了约翰逊的态度。这一事件也再次印证了英国内部的亲特朗普和亲美势力对特雷莎·梅政府的破坏力。英国驻美国大使按照自己的职责,向英国政府递交了关于特朗普政府的职能评估报告——特朗普政府“无能”和“不正常”。由于这类信件非常敏感,被视为国家机密,只分发给高级官员。但它们被泄露给了英国媒体,显然这是由亲特朗普的英国高层人士透露的。

约翰逊的风格是唯特朗普马首是瞻

几乎所有的英国政治家都对这个问题作出了回应,强调了泄露这类绝密信息对英国政府的危害。但鲍里斯·约翰逊却相反,把注意力集中在为特朗普的辩护上,从而迫使英国驻美国大使辞职。正如一位英国记者在推特中写道的:“实际上,这位大使是被约翰逊遵照特朗普的指示炒掉的。”正如《每日电讯报》在题为《金·达罗克被迫辞职向特蕾莎·梅的继任者传递了一个信号——要么脱欧,要么面对特朗普的怒火》的报道中指出:

“唐纳德·特朗普发推特指责金·达罗克爵士,不只是在政治上给后者定罪。更是对下一任首相的一个警告,如果不处理英国脱欧的问题,那么他将很快面临特朗普的滔天怒火……

他的暗示很明显。下一任首相,以及下一任英国驻英国大使,必须是“脱欧”的坚定支持者。”

如以往赞扬约翰逊一样,特朗普7月19日发推特称:“我喜欢他。我昨天和他谈过。我认为我们将建立良好的关系。”此外,特朗普表示,特雷莎·梅在英国脱欧问题上做得非常糟糕,约翰逊能解决英国脱欧问题。他还透露,他在约翰逊竞选英国首相前就与他做过交流。

鉴于此,约翰逊当选首相后,可能会在香港等问题上比特雷莎·梅更加唯美国马首是瞻。

从上文所示,亲特朗普与亲美国的鲍里斯•约翰逊与脱欧支持者有密切的关系,并且他的所作所为违背中国的利益,预计他将在香港和华为,以及其他问题上相比他的前任更加反华。

但有必要指出的是,这场斗争还没有定论,因为脱欧问题尚未解决。在这场斗争中,任何一方都没有真正付出过什么——只是对公投和他们在公投中的立场满口空话。特雷莎·梅的政策促成新词“BRINO”问世,意味着英国名义上脱欧,但实际上并未正式脱欧。作为美国支持者的脱欧支持者约翰逊,建议英国在没有与欧盟达成协议的情况下脱离欧盟,即“无协议脱欧”,尽管在2016年公投期间,他曾声称他们希望与欧盟达成协议脱欧,并且认为实现这一目标很容易。

尽管双方都高举着“民主”和“全民公投”的旗帜,但实际上他们在为更为根本性的经济和地缘政治问题进行激烈地斗争。这生动地说明,那些认为如此重要的问题通过选举就可以解决的人,真的“很傻很天真”。在这场斗争中,支持特朗普的鲍里斯·约翰逊等势力在迫使特雷莎·梅下台方面,取得了重大的胜利。但迄今为止,他们还无法解决特朗普面临的关键问题——英国与欧盟和美国的经济关系将如何走?

国会大厦外举行的反脱欧集会

约翰逊的问题是,尽管他成功迫使特雷莎·梅下台,但他支持特朗普和美国的政策违背了英国经济利益和英国人民利益。禁止华为参与英国5G电信基础设施建设,将会使英国付出额外的成本和导致英国5G网络推迟推出,而这不过是英国付出的不合理的经济代价的一部分。

英国对欧盟的出口占英国总出口量的42%,对美国的出口则仅占英国总出口量的18%。因此,从经济角度来讲,英国退出欧洲海关联盟,与美国签订自由贸易协定并不划算。事实上,英国部分资本、对冲基金和类似的金融机构不会因英国脱离欧洲经济体系而受到损失,但几乎所有的制造业、汽车业、制药业和大部分金融服务业则会损失惨重。此外,英国民众将因此大量失业、生活水平下降。

正因如此,反对鲍里斯·约翰逊的斗争在他就职之前就开始了。鲍里斯·约翰逊的计划之一是压制脱欧反对者,具体措施是就职后他将在10月31日——英国本应离开欧盟的日期前暂停议会。从本质上讲,这是一场“软”政变。然而,国会以多数票否决了这一提议,视之为非法行为——约翰逊所在的保守党就有40多名议员反对支持这一提议。

因此,为呼应美国利益,约翰逊计划在10月31日把英国从欧洲政治和经济体系(欧洲海关联盟)脱离出来,即“无协议脱欧”。但既然暂停议会的提议被否决,就不清楚约翰逊在议会中的支持者是否占多数。因此,这一问题将在秋季引发激烈的政治危机——二战以来英国最严重的政治危机。鉴于此,这场斗争的结果不仅将决定英国脱欧与否,而且将影响英国在香港、华为等中国其他问题上的立场。

中国的外交政策不允许其干涉他国内政,这与国际准则一致——而英国正式粗暴地违反了这一规则,干涉香港问题。但这并不意味着中国不会被其他国家发生的事所影响,有时候这种联系可能在表面上不是很明显,但这种影响会与社会力量的基本发展紧密相连。中国媒体已经清楚地注意到在最近的香港挑衅事件中英国那种咄咄逼人的态度。此外,中国媒体也注意到了围绕英国脱欧而不断增长的危机,但是鲜有媒体注意到两者的内在联系。

显然,基于上述原因,在未来几个月里,英国将面临来自其内部的亲特朗普和亲美势力的巨大冲击,他们希望英国更加坚定地追随美国。如果这些势力取得胜利,那么这对英国和中国(包括香港问题)来说,都将是一个打击。也许中国不会直接干预,但中国很有必要仔细关注并清楚地了解这些事件所揭示出来的问题。

附:本文英文原文

Brexit explains why Britain has played such a provocative role in Hong Kong

On Tuesday Britain announced that Boris Johnson became its new Prime Minister. This event has significant implications for China – including for Hong Kong and for Huawei. Johnson’s project is to turn Britain into the equivalent of the 51st state of the US – but without the right to vote! Because some Chinese media wrongly believe that Brexit is a domestic British issue, without major implications for China, or wrongly treated Boris Johnson as some sort of amiable fool, it is necessary to correct this and see clearly what is taking place and its consequences for China. In particular the international forces involved make clear why Britain has played such a provocative role in recent events in Hong Kong.

Britain’s role in Hong Kong

A specific feature of the present provocations in Hong Kong is clearly the role played by Britain – which has made a series of statements attempting to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, in contradiction to the 1997 ending of Britain’s colonial rule and return of Hong Kong to China. The Chinese Ambassador in London, and the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing, have strongly replied to these. It is clear a certain division of labour has been created in attacks on China with the US concentrating on the trade war and Britain playing a particularly provocative role in relation to Hong Kong. But, as will be seen, this façade conceals the reality. Britain’s provocative policy is carried out by forces increasingly aligned with the US – it is not a difference in substance but merely a technical division of labour.

This present provocative role by Britain is particularly striking because it forms a sharp contrast to the situation only a few years ago of the ‘golden period’ of China-UK relations when Cameron was British prime minister. Britain at that time became the first G7 country to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) despite US opposition. Xi Jinping made a highly successful visit to Britain. At that time Britain, in line with the 1997 settlement, largely refrained from provocative intervention in Hong Kong. What therefore explains the change, and how is this related to Boris Johnson becoming British Prime Minister?

The answer to this question lies in the international and social dynamic behind Brexit – which is not at all a purely domestic British issue and has significant implications for China. Cameron’s development of the ‘golden period’ of British-China relations was directly tied to the fact that he represented that wing of British business which strongly supported Britain’s membership of the EU and he was a fierce opponent of Brexit – Cameron campaigned entirely against Brexit in the 2016 referendum and resigned because of his defeat in the referendum. Within that framework Cameron developed what was a highly rational strategy from the viewpoint of both Britain’s population and British capitalism of positioning Britain as the key gateway for China into the EU.

Cameron’s strategy for attracting China’s investment to Britain

Britain had great advantages in pursuing Cameron’s strategy. The City of London is Europe’s most important financial centre. It is the world’s largest centre for foreign exchange dealing, ahead of New York, and has already established a position as the largest market for RMB trading outside China. English is also the first foreign language most Chinese citizens learn and therefore Britain is much easier for many Chinese firms to operate in than Germany or France. Britain is a very important telecommunications centre and Cameron could ensure Huawei was able to participate in this important British market.

During the eight years I was in charge of London’s economic policy, from 2000-2008, I had numerous meetings with the financial companies of London and therefore knew personally how centrally they saw relations with China. A single anecdote sums this up – it was a joke among business circles of the City of London that it was very unfortunate that the Chinese Spring Festival was so close in time to the European Xmas, as after attending many dinners to mark Xmas they then had to attend many more to celebrate the Spring Festival and therefore it was impossible to control weight at that time of the year!

Cameron’s strategy was, therefore, extremely economically rational for British capitalism and Britain’s economic development. With many Chinese companies expanding abroad they saw Britain as a very suitable point of entry into the EU. Britain could gain from Chinese investment in addition to its already strong position as the financial centre of the EU – a real ‘win-win’ outcome for both Britain and China.

But to pursue such a strategy Cameron evidently needed calm and objective relations with China. This is the explanation of why during the ‘golden period’ Cameron therefore clearly tried to avoid becoming involved in provocations in Hong Kong.

The US against Cameron

But Cameron’s economic policy was totally unacceptable to those in the US who wanted to block China’s development. The days when Britain ruled the greatest Empire in the history of the world were, of course, long gone. But nevertheless, Britain remains a significant global economy – the sixth largest GDP in the world, with a high technological level and, in London, the most important international financial centre in the world outside the US.  For Britain to be pursuing a ‘win-win’ relation with China, which although it benefitted Britain also benefitted China, was therefore unacceptable for anti-China circles in the US – which is why the US so strongly opposed Britain joining the AIIB. The US opportunity to comprehensively disrupt Britain’s good relations with China came with Brexit – and the key role of Boris Johnson within this which has culminated in him becoming Prime Minister.

The historical position of the US in regard to Britain’s membership of the EU had been  to support this – as Britain was seen as a reliable US ally to influence EU policy. But Trump reversed this policy to instead favour disrupting the EU, therefore arguing for Britain to withdraw from the EU, and he forged close personal links with anti-EU forces in Britain.

This change in US policy to the EU necessarily followed from Trump overall international strategy. The policy of Obama and Hilary Clinton had been to seek to form a broad ‘anti-China alliance’ – to achieve which the US had to make concessions to its allies, which included good relations with the EU. Trump, however, considered the US could not afford such concessions and that instead allies should be forced to increase the resources they supplied to the US – so that the US would be strengthened in its confrontation with China. Because Germany was unwilling to transfer its resources to the US, through increased defence spending and acceptance of US tariffs, and Germany dominated the EU, therefore Trump concluded that Brexit must be pursued to weaken the EU. Support for Brexit was therefore integrally linked to Trump’s strategy to attack on China. To pursue  this strategy Trump created close relations with Brexit supporters in Britain – the first British politician to meet Trump after his election as President was not from the governing Conservative Party but Nigel Farage who is now leader of the Brexit Party (see photo)

Boris Johnson links to the US

Boris Johnson fitted perfectly into Trump’s strategy. Johnson was born in the US and was a US citizen,  as well as British citizen, until 2016 – although Johnson pursued his political career in Britain. Johnson’s policy was of strong subordination to the US – being, for example, a firm supporter of the invasion of Iraq.

Johnson was also ultra-derogatory about Chinese civilization writing: ‘high Chinese culture and art are almost all imitative of western forms: Chinese concert pianists are technically brilliant, but brilliant at Schubert and Rachmaninov. Chinese ballerinas dance to the scores of Diaghilev. The number of Chinese Nobel prizes won on home turf is zero, though there are of course legions of bright Chinese trying to escape to Stanford and Caltech.

‘There are Chinatowns and takeaways all over the world, but in Britain the culinary impact of China is dwarfed by the [Indian] subcontinent…. It is hard to think of a single Chinese sport at the Olympics, compared with the umpteen invented by Britain, including ping-pong [table tennis], I’ll have you know, which originated at [British] upper-class dinner tables…

‘The Chinese have a script so fiendishly complicated that they cannot produce a proper keyboard for it…

‘As for military might – hard power – our fears are again overdone. The Chinese may have 2.5 million men in uniform, but of the long-range missiles you need to be a global power Beijing can wield only 20, which would make for a pretty brief fireworks display.’

Someone who was firm supporter of the US, and was derogatory about China, was, of course, an ideal candidate for Trump – who therefore duly went out of his way to publicly praise Johnson.

The fight over Brexit

Immediately after the referendum vote for Brexit in 2016 an intense fight broke out between the pro-EU and pro-US sections of British capital – it is merely a naïve illusion to believe that such an important issue was to be decided by a ‘democratic vote’ and that the powerful economic forces which lost the referendum would simply accept the result.

Cameron himself resigned as Prime Minister but his successor Theresa May had campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. Her strategy was to take Britain out of the political structures of the EU but to open up the way for the more important issue of it remaining within the EUs economic structures – the EU custom’s union. She was supported in this by key figures in the government such as finance minister Hammond. May therefore successfully negotiated an agreement with the EU to embody this strategy. Technically this was embodied in a ‘backstop’ in which Britain guaranteed there would not be an economic border between the British part of Ireland in the North, and the independent part of Ireland in the South. But to avoid this necessarily either there would have to be a customs border within the UK itself between the north of Ireland and the rest of Britain, which no British government would ever agree to, or Britain as a whole would have to remain within the EU customs union – which was the real aim of May’s agreement.

This policy was entirely unacceptable to Trump for whom the most important thing was precisely that Britain should leave the economic structures of the EU, that is its customs union, and enter into a trade agreement dictated by the US. As long as Britain was within the EU customs union it would remain within an economic structure controlled by Germany and had no right to sign a separate trade agreement with the US – which would subordinate Britain to the US economy.

Trump therefore supported pro-US forces within the Conservative Party, and Brexit Party leader Farage outside it, in refusing to support May’s deal with the EU. In line with that strategy Johnson also resigned from the May government, where he had held the position of foreign minister. Because of this pro-Trump Tory opposition, and its support with the Conservative Party, May was unable to pass her deal with the EU through Parliament despite the government majority within it. Simultaneously, in close contact with Trump, Farage began to build the pro-Trump Brexit Party to electorally threaten the Conservatives – imposing severe defeat on them in the May 2019 elections to the European parliament. Faced with simultaneous revolt inside the Tory Party, and the electoral threat from Farage outside it, after a three-year fight inside the Conservative Party May was forced to resign.

But because what was in fact taking place was a fierce struggle between pro-EU and pro-US sections of British capitalism this process necessarily had significant implications for Britain’s relations with China – which could be seen very clearly not only in relation to Hong Kong but also in relation to Huawei.

Developments with Huawei

As part of his strategy for the ‘golden age’ of relations with the China the pro-EU Cameron allowed Huawei to strongly participate in the building of Britain’s telecommunications system – thereby getting the advantage of Huawei’s technical expertise and competitive prices. Ren Zhenfei, Huawei’s CEO, was invited as a guest to the Prime Minister’s office and residence at 10 Downing Street –  shown in the photo. This policy, of course, aided not only Huawei but also strengthened the British economy as it gave access to the most technologically advanced and price competitive solutions for its telecommunications infrastructure.

With the offensive by pro-Trump forces May abandoned the approach of Cameron’s ‘golden period’ of relations with China but nevertheless still sought to maintain some of the advantages for the British economy of Huawei’s involvement in the British telecommunications system. Therefore May’s government cut back on Huawei’s participation in British telecommunications, by saying that Huawei could not participate in ‘core’ parts of the new 5G system, but nevertheless it decided Huawei could participate in ‘non-core’ aspects. This, however, did not go nearly far enough for Trump/the US, which wanted Huawei excluded from the British 5G system altogether – in line with the total ban on Huawei participation in telecommunications infrastructure in the US.

In line with this US demand pro-US forces within May’s government therefore set about sabotaging Huawei’s participation in Britain’s 5G system. In a particularly notorious episode information was leaked from a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council to attempt to discredit Huawei – the first time in history a leak had occurred from what is necessarily an ultra-secret body. Britain’s defence minister was dismissed over this unprecedented leak.

Having secured a partial victory, in excluding Huawei from the core parts of Britain’s 5G system, the US therefore began to step up pressure to cut Huawei out the British 5G telecommunications system altogether. A key weapon to achieve this is that if Britain withdraws from the EU customs union it can then enter into a trade agreement with the US – securing a key goal of the Trump administration. As the British Sunday Telegraph noted, to which details on the trade negotiations with the US had been leaked: ‘Donald Trump’s negotiators have signalled that the next prime minister’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States rest on his willingness to fall in line with tough American policies against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

‘Whitehall correspondence seen by The Sunday Telegraph reveals that British officials close to transatlantic trade talks believe allowing Huawei to ­provide equipment for new 5G mobile networks could be a deal-breaker.’

This increasingly anti-Huawei position, with the advance of pro-US pro-Brexit forces, precisely paralleled in time the transition from Britain respecting the terms of the agreement on 1997 with China about Hong Kong to its new provocative attempts to interfere in Hong Kong. The reason for this parallel development on the two issues in an anti-China direction was, of course, because they embodied the same social forces – the growing weight of anti-China pro-US pro-Brexit forces, all of which entirely rejected Cameron’s ‘golden period’ of relations with China and supported the replacement of Theresa May by Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Therefore it may be seen it was a major misunderstanding in the Chinese media to see Brexit as a purely British domestic issue unconnected with its relations with China and issues such as Hong Kong. On the contrary, Britain’s provocative attitude in Hong Kong, and the growth of attacks on Huawei, was integrally related to the fight taking place around Brexit.

Johnson’s strategy is to subordinate Britain to the US

Given the forces which Johnson rests on his policy is of even greater subordination of Britain to the US. His policy might be summarised as that Britain should be reduced from that of pet poodle to the US to that of pure lap dog, or that Britain should act like the equivalent of the 51st state of the US  except that it would not have the right to vote in US elections! As the Daily Telegraph, the key British newspaper campaigning for Johnson as Prime Minister, noted under the self-explanatory headline ‘Boris Johnson to seek Trump trade deal in first move as leader’: ‘Boris Johnson wants to make resetting relations with President Trump one of his first acts in Downing Street by travelling to the United States to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal.

‘The former foreign secretary is ready to fly there as soon as possible if he wins the leadership contest to try to secure a limited agreement in time for his “do or die” deadline of October 31.

“The key to the whole thing is the US…”an ally of Mr Johnson said.’

Johnson’s orientation was illustrated graphically during the recent enforced resignation of the British Ambassador to the US Kim Darroch. This event illustrated once more the sabotage carried out of May’s government by pro-Trump pro-US forces. The British Ambassador in Washington, in line with his official duties, had sent to the British government his evaluation of the functioning of the Trump administration. These concluded that the administration was ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘inept’. Because of their ultra-sensitive nature such Ambassador’s reports are regarded as a state secret and are circulated only to a high-level officials. However, they were leaked to the British press – clearly by a pro-Trump high level British source.

Almost all British politicians reacted regarding this issue by emphasising the danger to British state functioning of leaks of such top-secret information. But Boris Johnson, on the contrary, concentrated on public defence of Trump – thereby forcing the resignation of the Ambassador. As one British journalist aptly put it on Twitter, the Ambassador was: ‘In effect, sacked by Johnson on the orders of Trump.’ As the Daily Telegraph accurately put it in an article headline, ‘The Kim Darroch row is a message to Theresa May’s successor – Get Brexit right or face Donald Trump’s wrath.’ The analysis, which the paper thoroughly supported, was entirely clear and accurate:

‘Donald Trump’s evisceration of Sir Kim Darroch was more than a political execution by Twitter.

‘It was a warning to the next prime minister to deliver Brexit, and quickly, or themselves face the considerable wrath of the US president…

‘His message was clear. The next prime minister, and their next “man or woman in Washington,” must be a true Brexiteer.’

In line with his previous praise of Johnson Trump on 19 July Trump declared: ‘I like him. I spoke to him yesterday. I think we’re going to have a great relationship.’ Leaving no doubt as to his intentions Trump declared May had ‘done a very bad job with Brexit’ and that ‘I think Boris will straighten it out.’ Trump thereby also revealed that he was already coordinating with Johnson during the Tory leadership campaign before Johnson became Prime Minister.

Given this orientation Johnson as Prime Minister may be expected to follow an even more pro-US orientation than May on issues such as Hong Kong.

The clash of British political forces and China

It is clear from the above that the advance of the pro-Trump pro-US Boris Johnson forces are linked to Brexit and are against the interests of China – and would be expected to lead to even more anti-China positions on Hong Kong, Huawei and other issues. But it is important to understand that the final outcome of this fight is not at all yet decided because the issue of Brexit is not yet settled. Neither side in that fight has paid anything that purely lip service to the referendum and the positions they put forward in it. May’s policy was characterised as BRINO (Brexit in Name Only) because it would have ended in Britain remaining within the economic structures of the EU. Johnson’s pro-US supporters of Brexit now propose that Britain should leave the EU without any economic agreement at all with the EU, a ‘No Deal Brexit’, despite having claimed during the referendum that they wanted an agreement with the EU and that it would be extremely easy to achieve this. While both sides held up the banner of ‘democracy’ and the ‘referendum’ they were in fact fighting viciously over much more fundamental economic and geopolitical issues. This illustrates graphically that any idea that such an important issue is simply settled because there has been a vote on it is merely naïve. Within that fight the pro-Trump Boris Johnson forces have won an important victory in forcing May out of office, but they have been unable so far to settle what is for Trump the key question – what will be the economic relation of Britain with the EU and US?

The problem for Johnson, despite his success in removing May, is that his pro-Trump pro-US policy is against the interests of the British economy and against the interests of the British population. Refusal to allow Huawei to operate in Britain’s 5G telecommunications infrastructure, with the extra cost and delay this involves for Britain, is only one part of a wider economic irrationality. The proportion of Britain’s exports going to the EU is 42% compared to only 18% to the US – it therefore makes no economic sense to withdraw from the customs union with the EU to join a free trade deal with the US. It is true that some parts of British capitalism, hedge funds and similar financial operators, would not lose from leaving the EU’s economic structures but almost all of manufacturing, the car industry, pharmaceuticals and large part of financial services would lose greatly. Furthermore, the British population would suffer significant loses of jobs and in living standards as a result.

The result of this is that the fight against Boris Johnson started even before he came to office. One of the plans being actively explored by Johnson was that to overcome opposition to Brexit he would, after taking office, suspend Parliament until after the 31st of October, the date on which Britain is supposed to leave the EU. This would, in essence, be a ‘soft’ coup d’etat. This, however, was then blocked by Parliament voting by as majority to make this illegal – with more than 40 MPs from Johnson’s own Conservative Party rebelling to support this position.

Johnson is therefore determined, in line with the interests of the US, to attempt to take Britain out not only of the political structures of the EU on 31st October but also out of the customs union with the EU – know technically as a ‘No Deal Brexit’. But, now that a proposal to suspend Parliament has been blocked, it is completely unclear if Johnson has a majority in Parliament to achieve this. In the autumn there will therefore be an intense political crisis over this issue – the most serious in Britain since World War II. For the reasons already given the outcome of this fight will determine not only Brexit but will significantly affect Britain’s position on Hong Kong, Huawei and other issue affecting China.

China’s foreign policy, in line with international rules, does not allow it to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries – a rule Britain is blatantly violating over Hong Kong. But this does not mean that China is not affected by what happens in other countries, sometimes by links that are not at all obvious on the surface, but which are connected by the fundamental development of social forces. China’s media has clearly noted the aggressive attitude taken by Britain in the recent provocations in Hong Kong. It has also noted the long development of the crisis around Brexit in Britain. But quite insufficient attention has been given to the connection between the two.

It is clear for the reasons given above that in the coming months Britain faces a fundamental attack from pro-Trump US forces that wish to subordinate Britain even more firmly to the US. The victory of these forces would be a setback for Britain, but it would also be a setback for China – including in relation to the provocations in Hong Kong. China will not intervene but it is worth noting carefully and clearly understanding the unfolding of events.