UK considers Brexit, but gets closer to China

Xi Jinping, the leader of China, is now in a 4 days state visit in the United Kingdom. So, the queen had to take the horses out of the stable and offer him a ride.

I knew long ago about this visit because it was intensely popularized on the Chinese state owned media. Even on Facebook you could see that China Daily sponsored the articles announcing this visit, so they could reach a larger audience. I actually had the feeling that this visit has been better popularized in the Chinese media than the one Xi Jinping recently had in the US.

One explanation for this would be that, while in the US he had to deal with issues (hegemony, cybersecurity or the South China Sea disputes), in the UK he only has to further improve the China-UK relationship. This does not seem to be very difficult, as deals worth 30 billion pounds are about to get sealed.

But we should not get the wrong impression that China alone is working for making this relationship better. By the contrary, I would say… UK’s finance minister George Osborne started a charm offensive towards China a few years ago when he declared, while being in Beijing, that “We have to be here or nowhere.” A month ago, during a speech he had at the Shanghai Stock Exchange he hailed for a “golden decade” in the UK-China relationship. He also said that the UK aims at having China as its second largest trading partner.

Prince William was on a tour in China earlier this year in March where he also had a meeting with Xi Jinping. This was the first visit in China of a British royal in almost 3 decades.

UK was the first Western nation to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, although the US asked its allies not to do so.

Now, I know Xi Jinping for a serious person. I am wondering what his thoughts were when he had to shake hands with all these strangely funny dressed people?

Photograph: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images

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