Labour’s China policy must put human rights at the forefront


LABOUR’S Lisa Nandy focused in on China in the shadow frontbencher’s first big foreign policy speech this week.

The main aim of the speech was to promote the ‘Labour is a patriotic party’ line as Kier Starmer’s party continues a merry chase to win back Tory voters.

Dialling into the Chatham House webinar Nandy continued the quixotic quest of showcasing Labour’s red, white and blue credentials.

For the foreign policy wing of the British establishment the rise of China is the most potent threat. Nandy opening remarks offered a shared sense of urgency describing her “mission” to bring about a “values-based” approach to China.

The shadow Foreign Secretary signalling early where Labour stand on the emerging Cold War between Washington and Beijing.

Many aspects of global power are shifting from the United States to China. Economically China, at least by purchasing power parity, has grown larger than the United States. By 2030 the Chinese economy could be twice as big by comparison to the US.

Domestically, China is also reported to have lifted million of people above the poverty line. In 1990 two-thirds of China’s citizens lived below the poverty line by 2012 this had fallen just 0.5 percent of the population.

Nandy argued too little attention has been paid to the consequences of China’s economic model for the British people.

She describes the Chinese model as one which “relies on low working standards, poor wages and unfair trade practices to drive growth.”

Minority groups within China’s outer regions of Tibet and Xinjiang face discrimination and state violence on an appalling scale.

Ongoing repression in Xinjiang, has seen reports of more than one million Uyghur Muslims being detained in camps and subjected to torture and forced labour.

Hong Kong likewise has seen a crackdown on free expression and democratic organising with the passing of the new national security legislation following mass street demonstrations unlike anything witnessed on the Chinese mainland.

Challenging such authoritarianism is the challenge for the internationalist minded left as is pushing back on the Asian racism which has surged during this recent pandemic.

Emerging from Covid, China is and will remain of crucial relevance to the left in the UK and abroad.

Meanwhile Labour, blinkered on foreign policy like elsewhere by a desire to appear respectable, is fast moving down the route to irrelevance.

Featured Image: Pixabay

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