Dominic Raab and the other noisy but impotent critics of China exhibit a combination of ignorance and defective memory. Anyone in Hong Kong in the 1980s after the signing of the Joint Declaration knew it was a perfidious sell-out. The final meaningful jewel of Empire was given away and its people abandoned.
The People’s Republic move to tighten its control was delayed only by a pragmatic decision to wait until the West could do nothing about it. So between the mid 1980s and today the Chinese have built their international economic power to such an extent that we are all totally reliant on it. There is an unbreakable integration between China as manufacturer and as customer and the West that no amount of hand-wringing and huffing and puffing can change.
Britain was willing to fight a war and surrender lives in considerable numbers to support a couple of thousand British citizens occupying a few fields with sheep and rocks with penguins in the South Atlantic. But around the same time we meekly handed over five million of Hong Kong’s people, no less deserving of our protection, to one of the world’s most authoritarian and illiberal regimes. Perfidious Albion at its most venal.
So when we listen to Raab and Tugendhart and co. whining on about Beijing’s perfidy we should remind them that it was the inadequacy and lack of care, and principle, of Britain’s 1980s government that led us to where we are.