Chinese dictator Xi Jinping sent a message of congratulations to King Charles III of England on Saturday, offering to “expand friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation, and intensify communication on global issues.”
Xi sent a message of condolences for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II the previous day. This message also included an offer to develop “healthy and stable” ties between China and the United Kingdom.
In his message of congratulations on Saturday, Xi mentioned that 2022 marks the 50th year since the U.K. formally established diplomatic relations with the Chinese communist government.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted, as Xi most certainly did not, that strain between China and the U.K. over the past few years is entirely China’s fault:
Relations between China and the United Kingdom have worsened in recent years over a range of issues, from Hong Kong and human rights, to Huawei Technologies, the South China Sea and security.
Ties have been complicated by ongoing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Britain summoned Chinese ambassador Zheng Zeguang last month over the People’s Liberation Army’s actions around Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit. And the UK is sending a parliamentary delegation to the island later this year.
Britain is also among a number of Western countries that pushed for the release of the United Nations Human Rights Office’s report that looked into allegations of “human rights violations” in Xinjiang by Chinese authorities.
The SCMP pointed out that Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss is “one of the harshest critics of China,” and the new king has a “complex relationship with China,” as the BBC put it in 2015, when then-Prince Charles declined to attend a banquet where glasses were raised to the People’s Republic of China.
Xi congratulates King Charles, seeks to improve China-UK ties https://t.co/8L7NhUZwfI
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) September 11, 2022
Charles has participated in some diplomatic events with China over the years, but he has also snubbed the Chinese a few times, usually to send a human rights message related to Beijing’s oppression in regions like Tibet and East Turkistan, home of the Uyghur Muslims. On the other hand, he frequently extends offers of cooperation on environmental issues to Beijing and tactfully avoids mentioning the mountains of coal China’s power plants have been burning.
In late August, Charles sent a video message about climate change to China, urging it to participate in the Sustainable Markets Initiative, which he launched in 2020. Charles saluted China as a world leader in “green technology” and said it would “play a vital role in the global transition to a greener economy.”
“Climate change and biodiversity loss, as two of the world’s most dire and pressing threats, simply cannot be solved without China,” he said.
Truss is a more persistent and trenchant critic of China. In a major speech this year, she described China as a threat to the rules-based international order and warned Beijing is “rapidly building a military capable of projecting power deep into areas of European strategic interest.”
Truss called for the Western world to check China’s growing power, urged the West to remain united behind Taiwan, and cited the sanctions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example of consequences China could face for acting aggressively.
China’s state-run Global Times was not interested in building any friendly relations with the U.K. when it ran a Saturday op-ed trashing Truss as a lightweight warmonger who has not “thought through the implications of designated China as a threat.”
The same op-ed ridiculed the U.K. as a flabby, fading power in no shape to wage diplomatic or economic war against mighty China.
China’s tightly controlled social media has featured what Radio Free Asia (RFA) charitably described on Monday as “mixed” reactions to the passing of Queen Elizabeth and the ascension of King Charles.
Some of China’s “Little Pink” nationalists are grouchy that Queen Elizabeth had the poor timing to die right when China was observing the anniversary of genocidal Chinese Communist Party founder Mao Zedong’s death:
“We should me more concerned with [mourning] Grandpa Mao than an old British lady,” one comment said amid a flurry of comments and likes, particularly surrounding floral tributes outside Buckingham Palace, and offerings of Paddington Bear toys and marmalade sandwiches, a reference to the late Queen’s appearance in a Paddington movie.
“There’s no need to be so sad about the death of the Queen of England,” Sina Weibo user @Bone-Goose wrote on Monday. “I saw a lot of people posting about a lot of video clips, and that they were mainly doing to follow a trend or to look classy. It think this is very well said.”
Another comment read: “The news of the death of the Queen of England is all over the internet, just one day away from the anniversary of our founding leader’s death. People who drink water shouldn’t forget those who dug the wells.”
The Little Pinks rallied around a quote from CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour, vigorously agreeing with her contention that Britain should “focus more on the harm done by its colonialist and imperialist history, now that King Charles III has acceded to the throne,” and around a September 9 statement from the youth wing of the U.K. Communist Party to junk the British monarchy and institute a “republic.”