1 Comment
Jul 22, 2020Liked by Bill Bishop

Re: Question: How is terminating an extradition treaty interfering in a country's internal affairs?

That is, indeed, an interesting question, Bill. Personally, I’m also still stuck on Ambassador Liu Xiaoming’s claim that: “China has never interfered in UK’s internal affairs.”

On a visit to the UK on 17 June 2014, with Scotland’s independence referendum campaign well underway, Li Keqiang, standing beside former British PM David Cameron, spoke out against Scottish independence. More specifically, Li told reporters that he wanted to see a “united United Kingdom” (see: “China's Li Keqiang speaks out against Scottish independence,” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/17/china-li-keqiang-scottish-independence).

I remember this quite vividly because I was actively involved on the Yes side of the campaign.

So... What was our reaction in the Yes camp when we heard Li’s comments?

Were we happy? Nah.

Did we vehemently disagree with his position? Absolutely.

But did we whine and complain that his words constituted “foreign interference?” Certainly not. In the official Yes campaign, we challenged our opponents—meaning anyone opposed to a “Yes” vote—based on the content of their arguments.

I wonder how Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would be received if she were to speak out in favour of Hong Kong independence during a visit to China some time?

Actually, never mind—that’s too easy... How would she be treated if she said something less inflammatory—for example, if she were to put forward a nuanced critique of the new Hong Kong national security law, from the comfort of her office in Edinburgh?

My guess is that the response would be: “cue the ‘foreign interference’ chorus.”

Sturgeon may not have the global profile of, say, British PM Boris Johnson. Nevertheless, at an absolute minimum, I would expect the Chinese consulate in Edinburgh to make strong representations in response. After all, these are the same people who made strong representations to Dundee City Council—Dundee being Scotland’s fourth largest city with a population of about 150,000—when the Dalai Lama visited there in 2012 (see: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-18533002).

If I didn’t know better, I’d say there’s some sort of double standard there...

Expand full comment