The state visit of China's president: royal pomp and hard business but no human rights.
Quite a lot of odd sights were to be seen during the state visit of China’s president Mr. Xi Jinping to the United Kingdom, which took place between the 20th and the 23rd of October. Countless Chinese students lined The Mall, cheering for their president, waving flags and holding up banners (which all looked rather similar). They must have all put in a group effort, rather than being provided with them by the Chinese embassy. Then there was the sight of the president himself; riding with the Queen in a royal carriage, escorted by the Household Cavalry as if he were Louis XIV, or any baroque king for that matter. It must have been quite the excitement for the president of the Peoples Republic, as leaders of communist regimes usually only go about in black limousines from the seventies. Then the oddest sight of them all: Jeremy Corbyn, in a white tie, shaking the hand of the Queen. Welcome to the establishment!
Anyhow, amongst all the friendly small talk, cosy speeches and chatter of how China and the UK are best friends, one topic was (unsurprisingly) omitted: the human rights situation. The few human rights activists that did come to The Mall when Mr. Xi Jinping passed by, were hardly heard and their banners covered by the flags of Chinese students. To make things even more paradoxical, guess who‘s also paying a visit to London right now? A certain Joshua Wong, nominated to be Time Magazines Person of the Year for his leading role in the Hong Kong mass protests of 2014. Mr. Wong actually came to an event hosted by the Debate Society at Queen Mary University of London, to discuss some of the issues Hong Kong faces. By talking about the human rights situation in China and Hong Kong, the true nature of the regime lead by Mr. Xi Jinping, the man in the golden carriage, became quite evident.
It was of course in the interest of state officials to keep the matter of human rights off topic, as China is willing to take over a third of the costs of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. A third being £8 Billion. Further nuclear power plants backed by Chinese investments and technology are being considered. Overall trade agreements worth nearly £40 Billion were agreed upon between the two countries. Even the price of visas has been severely reduced for Chinese citizens, making it quiet clear what kind of tourists the UK likes – the ones who leave a lot of money in the country.
So with all the money Mr. Xi Jinping will leave in the country, the next time he comes, he might as well just keep the Queens golden carriage.