Rana Mitter, Director of the Oxford China Centre and Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, reflects on the British government’s threat to go 'back to the diplomatic drawing board' with Beijing after the COVID-19 crisis in This Week in Asia.
If a post-Brexit Britain wants China to change, he says it needs to think carefully about what it wants and which of its 'friends' will be willing to support it:
‘Brexit has, at least in the short term, made its international relationships much more fragile. Which of its relationships is Britain seeking to leverage with its comments on China? And why would China pay attention?’
Regardless of Britain's waning influence, it could be in China's interest to pay attention to global opinion, Professor Mitter argues in his 'Asian Angle' perspective piece.
There have been concerns that COVID-19 cases are not being reported in China due to its culture of political fear. The Coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity for China to acknowledge why relationships with countries like Britain are cooling, and establish itself as a global leader through a constructive response regarding issues of freedom of speech and transparency. He concludes:
‘Countries that acknowledge weaknesses, and pledge real steps to address them, have the real qualities needed for global leadership: confidence, trust and openness.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic the department has decided to share opinion and blog pieces written by members of the faculty, who are bringing their unique research perspectives to engage with the big questions of the day. The views expressed within these articles do not represent the department’s official view, instead they shine a light on the intellectual plurality of our diverse community of academics and scholars.