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Global politics

Blame the West for China’s rise

Henry Kissinger, right, in China in 1971. Bettmann/Getty Images

What really set the Chinese Communist Party on the “path to global domination”, says Matthew Syed in The Sunday Times, was “western naivety”. Fifty years ago Henry Kissinger went to Beijing on a secret mission to “reset” relations between China and the US. His idea was that if western nations traded more with China, in time it would accept our values. It was “unrealistic” even then, “but it had a certain ring to it”. That it was a fantasy became “palpable” in 1989, when Deng Xiaoping massacred “hundreds, possibly thousands” of students on Tiananmen Square. But the West, like a “deranged gambler”, kept betting that China would get better. This reached its “zenith” in 2015, when George Osborne gushed: “No economy is as open to Chinese investment as the UK.” (The policy turned out to be rather good for Kissinger personally: after leaving office he made a fortune through business links with China.)

The problem is not just politicians, but western companies such as Apple, which rely on China and are “de facto hostages” of Beijing. When the CCP complained about an app used by Hong Kong democracy protesters in 2019, Apple pulled it from its app store immediately. It’s no good Apple “virtue signalling on LGBT and Black Lives Matter” in the West while ignoring the sins of its paymasters in Beijing. We keep letting China break the rules under the delusion that it will learn to respect those rules. If it becomes the greatest totalitarian state in history, “we will only have ourselves to blame”. 

Read the full article here (paywall).