‘Operation Kowtow’ — Ex-PM May’s Top Adviser Admits UK Submission to ‘Brutal’ Chinese Regime was ‘Naive’

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Nick Timothy, the former Chief of Staff to Theresa May, has called on the British government to reverse its policy of grovelling to the Chinese Communist Party.

The pursuit of a so-called “golden era” of friendship with the Chinese communists — described in revealing terms as “Operation Kowtow” even by its supporters, in reference to the act of ritual prostration before the Chinese emperors of old — was pioneered by May’s predecessor David Cameron, according to the adviser, a once-key figure in the Conservative Party.

Writing in The Telegraph, Timothy described how Britain’s intelligence agencies warned that “Beijing would spy on Britain… steal our military and commercial secrets… [and] use their economic power to exert geopolitical pressure on us” — but government ministers just “listened politely [and] failed to heed the warning.”

The official attitude, said Timothy, quoting a senior attendee at the meeting, was: “China is going to do all this anyway. We might as well take their money.”

This pursuit of economic interests — at least, short-term economic interests — over national security and geo-strategic imperatives resulted in a “cynical bargain” in which the British government would chase Chinese investment at the cost of placing itself “at the mercy of a brutal and autocratic government.”

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s belief that “Britain should make itself China’s best friend in the West” was a key factor, Timothy recalled.

For Timothy, the Chinese Communist Party actions during the coronavirus — “it silenced the medics who tried to blow the whistle… allowed millions of people to leave Wuhan, making the virus an international danger…. left other countries guessing the characteristics of Covid-19 — mean that it is “surely now obvious that China is… a strategic rival to the West” and that the British policy of appeasement and supplication must be reversed.

This should begin with kicking Huawei out of 5G infrastructure — a decision which caused a huge rift with the United States, Australia, and other key allies in the first place — and building “greater resilience and more state capacity to protect us from danger” in terms of telecoms and defence.

Perhaps more importantly, he recommended that the British government should “follow Tokyo’s lead and provide financial assistance for companies bringing production and assembly work back home” now that the crisis has exposed the United Kingdom’s crippling dependence on outsourcing to China — although he also suggested a more normal Conservative Party option of moving global supply chains “to other low-cost countries such as Malaysia, Poland, and Portugal” could be acceptable.

The Japanese government has indeed set aside 220 billion yen for companies which wish to move production from China back to Japan, with an additional 23.5 billion yen for companies wishing to move to other countries — despite China being its single-biggest trading partner.

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