Ruled by hardcore capitalism, UK looks longingly at China

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Ruled by hardcore capitalism, UK looks longingly at China
It’s interesting to see which country UK ruling right-wing, anti-communist and anti-socialist elite are desperate to get to ‘invest’ in Britain: The People’s Republic of China. That’s right - the country ruled by the Communist Party since 1949.

"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 October 2013

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?

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (L) stands with Chinese vice premier Ma Kai (R) during a signing ceremony at Diaoyutai Guesthouse in Beijing on October 15, 2013. (AFP Photo / Kota Endo)

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.