Ruled by hardcore capitalism, UK looks longingly at China
"Not every country in the world is happy to see foreign investment, including Chinese investment. The UK is not the case. There are some countries, including European ones, who think the answer to the global race is to erect trade barriers and find all sorts of ways of making it clear that Chinese investment is not welcome. Britain is not one of those countries. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that there is no country in the West that is more open to investment - especially investment from China - than the United Kingdom is.
Who owns a large share of the London water supply - and a
share of Heathrow Airport? The China Investment Corporation! Some
nations wouldn't want Chinese investment in critical
infrastructure like water and airports. We welcome it." UK
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in Beijing, 14th
Britain’s ruling elite never loses any opportunity to tell us how dreadful socialism and communism is. How the ONLY way to economic prosperity is hardcore ‘free market’ neo-liberal capitalism. Anyone who dares to suggest any deviation away from this turbo-capitalist, international banker-friendly path is branded a ‘Stalinist’, a ’Red’ or someone, who, shock horror, wants to return Britain to the pre-Thatcherite 1970s.
If the British economy really was so dynamic, and so successful
under neo-liberal capitalism, why have the UK Chancellor of the
Exchequer and the Mayor of our biggest city flown off to Beijing
to beg the Chinese to invest in Britain?
And, if the only way to riches is neo-liberal capitalism, how can we explain the economic success of China, which has followed a very different path to Britain?
While of course there has been significant liberalization of the Chinese economy since the days of Mao, the state still plays a key role, both in terms of ownership and direction of the economy. The Chinese operate a mixed economy, combining state and private ownership - the sort of economy we had in Britain from 1945-79. This worked very successfully in increasing living standards for the majority, but which we are told by our elite is strictly ‘off-limits’ now.
China’s ‘best of both worlds’ economic model is the main reason for its amazing success – and why it’s been able to continue to do well despite the global financial meltdown of 2008.
"Its hybrid economic model continues to be based around a publicly owned core of banks and corporations", explained Seumas Milne in the Guardian earlier this year. "So, while in Europe and the US, governments rely on indirect (and so far entirely ineffective) mechanisms to reverse the collapse of private investment at the heart of the crisis – and private banks and corporations hoard bailout cash – China has the leverage directly to boost investment, jobs and incomes."
If only the UK state had that leverage. But while we in Britain
aren’t allowed to copy the good aspects of the Chinese economy
and have a strong state-owned sector to boost investment, jobs
and income, neo-liberals want us to copy the bad aspects of the
Chinese model. "We need more roads like China where cities
like Shanghai have 10-lane highways. We're too obsessed by
railways and planning constraints,’ bemoaned Conservative
peer, Lord Wolfson, at a meeting of the right-wing Institute of
Economic Affairs. It’s a common gripe from free market
zealots that UK’s planning rules are somehow ‘holding back the
economy’ and the ‘build, build, build’ brigade look
longingly at China, where there are eight and ten lane motorways
and historic hutongs in Beijing have been demolished to make way
for new roads, shops and offices.
The UK governing elite’s attitudes towards China highlight its glaring double standards.
China is praised as a ’great’ nation when we’re after Chinese
money, but criticized, along with Russia, when the Chinese
government quite rightly puts a block on aggressive, warmongering
British foreign policy, as was the case with Syria.
We’re meant to laud China’s ten-lane motorways, and its lax planning regulations, but not its mixed economy model. And while we can’t - heaven forbid- have the British state owning our national infrastructure on behalf of the British people, it’s to be ‘welcomed’ that the China Investment Corporation, owned by the Chinese state, can own our water and airports.
The very same people who warn us so much about the dangers of
‘communism’ have no problem at all with a country ruled by
the Communist Party buying up Britain. While, at the same time
we’re expected to swallow the nonsense that it’s the British
‘free market’ economic model that is the great world-beater.
There are indeed very important lessons to learn from China and
its economic success, but they are not the lessons that the UK
elite want us to learn.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.