What do we actually know about China?
The answer is not a lot. Unfortunately, this also applies to most of our gormless MP’s who are forced either by electoral pressure or political ideology, to be more concerned with transgender toilets or fights over unpopular planning decisions in their constituencies.
Those who follow politics will have seen the dire warnings made by Trump’s former political advisor, Steven Bannon – that China is the biggest threat that the West faces. Those interested in finance will have seen Jim Chanos warn of empty Chinese cities full of unaffordable vacant apartments. He views the internal Chinese debt bubble as Dubai 2008 multiplied by a thousand. Perhaps we know that America owes China, an unrepayable one trillion dollars in the form of United States Treasury bonds. Meanwhile, consumers will note that their high quality, expensive Apple computer is now made in China whilst the real ‘tat’ in discount stores is manufactured in places with far cheaper wage rates such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and North Korea.
Or perhaps we worry about China flooding the world with cheap steel and then coming in and buying two of our own steel plants for a super knock down price just £50m; assets that will cost billions to replace just slipped quietly away with hardly a murmur from the media on 9th March 2020 – a very long month ago.
Anyone who visits an expensive British public school will remark on the large number of Chinese students and how disciplined, tidy and good at maths they are compared to your average upper-class Brit. The Westminster School sixth form seems to be almost entirely dominated by such students. They work harder, never dissent and produce better results. Universities in both Britain and America have become so reliant on hundreds of thousands of Chinese students paying full fees (and feeding back technology and information to the motherland) that the current crisis is causing financial havoc in both sets of institutions.
Anyone who has visited parts of the less developed world will have seen the Chinese in action: At the Bauxite factory on the road to the airport in Kingston, Jamaica or constructing vast road networks across the desert in Mali.
Anyone involved in Nepalese earthquake relief will have seen the incredible efficiency with which the Chinese government neither asked, nor waited for permission but just pushed across the Himalayan border from Tibet, quickly took out the injured to hospitals thus saving lives, brought in urgent supplies and cleared the roads at lightning speed. The contrast with the bumbling Indian government who were still arguing about some trivial detail with the Nepalese government could not have been greater.
Perhaps people have heard of Uighur concentration camps in which over a million Muslims are interned – but given Islamic atrocities and general worldwide anti-Muslim feeling, maybe people feel the Chinese are justified and turn a blind eye and say, ‘Well Muslims cause trouble worldwide – perhaps they deserved it.’
People saw the riots and blood in Hong Kong and the repression of dissenters but it is soon out of mind. People compare the BBC’s coverage of the Hong Kong protestors with the ‘Yellow Shirts’ in France and say the BBC is just biased.
And so on – until now.
The photo of the Wujan whistleblower, Dr Li Wengliang, his scared eyes staring into the camera tells you everything you need to know about China. According to Chinese State media, he achieved more than Jesus Christ – managing to die twice on different days.