Thursday 11 November 2010

Cameron team wears poppies in China

Yes, that's a great idea. Wear poppies on a trade visit to China in the 150th anniversary year marking the end of the Opium Wars when Britain forced cheap Bengal opium on the Chinese people at the point of a gun.

Prime Minister David Cameron may think he is remembering the dead of World Wars One and Two, but in China the vivid symbols only serve as a reminder of Western arrogance and corruption and the Chinese who died due to the actions of a ruthless invading force. That's like a German delegation visiting Coventry and wearing doodlebug bomb badges emblazoned with "Ballroom Blitz". Is this in-yer-face callousness regarding British cruelty abroad the right way to go about touting for trade? Nah! Wouldn't think so.

I'm quoted in today's Evening Standard, responding to Cameron's breathtaking cheek in lecturing the Chinese on international responsibility. China certainly needs to clean up its act in regard to free speech and rights, and is slowly loosening up, but for us — the country that helped start the illegal Iraq war, approved of rendition and torture of its subjects — to deliver the lecture is nothing short of gobsmacking hypocrisy.

Under the Tory LibDem coalition government, which we did not vote for in our democratic elections, lives are being destroyed and a trajectory set for a return to Victorian levels of poverty. I can see a time coming when we'll envy the Chinese.

As for telling another nation to adjust its economy to help us out of a hole, have America or Britain ever done this to ease the debts of foreign countries? I thought it was all market forces. In fact, this means socialism for our rulers but dog-eat-dog capitalism for everyone else. The Chinese economy is made up of thousands of small factories with tiny profit margins making our crap for us. A revaluation of the yuan will mean whole swathes of production wiped out. If the reverse were needed, would America destroy great chunks of its industry with mass unemployment and civil unrest in order to placate another country in trouble due to a crisis that wasn't of our making? They will be making snowmen in hell before this ever happens.

[EDIT 2022: This event ended up marking the start of the Golden Era in UK China relations, brought to a close by the US and Boris Johnson. As for free speech and human rights, China and the US/UK are now travelling in opposite directions. "I can see a time coming when we'll envy the Chinese," is happening. Rising life expectancy; lowering of pollution and the world's biggest investment in fighting Climate Change; 850 million raised out of absolute poverty while US tent cites and UK food banks proliferate; the creation of a huge 550 million-strong middle-class, almost twice the size of America's population; personal safety and no gun killings; Harvard research shows over 95 per cent of China's people support the government, especially after it prevented an estimated five million deaths had China gone down the US/UK route of letting Covid rip through the population.]


Richy said...


You have actually surpassed yourself this time in complete nonsense in twisting history to suit your whim.

The Poppy Flower worn in November is NOT, I repeat NOT a symbol representing Opium, Heroin, oppression by 19th Century British Imperial forces over the Chinese or any other fabrication that enters your brainwashed mind.

It is an internationally recognised symbol, to REMEMBER the sad losses of British, Commonwealth and other nationalities, from ALL backgrounds, colour, creed and political status, who died in defence of democracy or quite simply a belief system they valued.

Yes that’s right the 'British and Allies' fought to repel the Imperialist Japanese who had raped and destroyed much of China and it's surrounding neighbours. So remember that although it would pain you I believe.

What a pathetic comparison in suggesting a German version reminding us of Coventry etc, you really are way off the mark and shame on you.

The way you casually describe China has 'to clean up its act' is an insult to Chinese and internationalist Human Rights campaigners and you know it. How dare you, you are an apologist for a ruthless dictatorship that uses Capitalism and Communism to keep its own population and others in place.

Tell that to Liu Xiaobo and Ai Wei Wei that it's simply just a 'cleaning up exercise'.

Yes the UK is responsible for some shameful current and past incidents, no doubt, but don't dare lampoon a symbol that means so much to so many. You are in a very tiny minority of people who disrespect something that unifies all backgrounds in its complete horror of war.

Shame on you Anna!

I really do hope you display this post, if you have the moral courage, which I doubt you have.


Madam Miaow said...

How about a little less hysteria, Richy?

So you are deciding what the poppy represents within China? The British government in China wears the flower that yielded the opium that brought the nation to its knees but YOU are deciding that there is no significance? Arrogant, much?

If you had the skills and ability to argue your points without incessant personal attacks I would be pleased to engage. But you don't. Whatever you are projecting, kindly take it elsewhere.

Richy said...

Thank you Anna, for posting my comment.

Does the poppy really represent a throw back to the British Imperial Opium Wars to today's Chinese? Or is it actually propaganda and their hysteria...or yours..or theirs..hang on, I'm confused because you choose to reside in a country that lost so many, as mentioned in previous post..but degrade its annual symbol of remembrance..not good is it?

Selective memory springs to mind, no pun intended, as the Chinese Govt has possibly killed and displaced as many of it's own people in THIS century than in wars and conflicts such as the Opium Wars.

I use the term 'brainwashed' as I fear you are subject to that type of indoctrination, sadly.

Personal attacks, nonsense, loose the smokescreen Anna please.

Have I been personaly rude or racist even? If I have then I deserve to be severely slated and reprimanded, but you know I haven't,

You still haven't given a good answer or argument to my questions, Bush/Blair Obama/Cameron, all self centred professional politicians engaged and encouraging assaults on society and other countries, disgraceful, but you have a problem recognising that in a country and regime you are an apologist for.

They are my points and if you can't understand that your not as intelligent as I once assumed.

Finally, I pay a BBC license like many others, so if my fee contributes to your wage at anytime, unless your services are for free? Then I'll continue to post here as is my right.

Kind regards


Biluś said...

You beat me to it: bitchy Richy - no! Anna, I'm so grateful for your perspective and am persuaded by your argument - I think the long-standing veil covering the awful exploitation and exclusion in our 'democracy' is being pulled away as the Bullingdons increasingly feel their feet. I also think that the internet allows us to organise resistance in a way not seen before (as the Tory Party and their 'brave policemen' found out yesterday). Keep up the good work, Madame Miaow :-)

Anonymous said...

Ah, but Richy is so right isn't he? How DARE you remind us of the Opium Wars and Britain's role in the dismemberment of China? How DARE you question the sacred symbolism of the poppy? How DARE you point up the hypocrisy of the UK's pronouncements on human rights and international law? How very very DARE you?

Keep up the good work. Keep daring to swim against the current!

Madam Miaow said...

Yet more ill-informed assumptions from you, Richy. As a freelancer I do not receive a wage from the BBC. You have no right to be published on my blog — I am effectively the editor. You certainly don't have any right to be abusive.

In answer to one toxic example of many in your slew of spew that hasn't been approved, I do not spend time in the PRC although I would love to visit given half a chance. I adhere to neither London nor Beijing nor Washington nor Moscow, but to international free-thinking. While China is guilty of many wrongs, in my opinion, none are so bad as what the Western neo-cons, neo-liberals, warmongers and exploiters have been up to, especially in the past decade.

It's not China that is wrecking the British way of life of which I am so fond.

That's not to indulge in moral relativism — I welcome thoughtful criticism of China — but you don't provide it. I am impatient with the desperate clutching at straws that lets our own side off the hook.

Yin said...

That's a very good point, as much as I'm British. I think that sometimes when reporting on China or either political visits on China, the history of china is lost on many. So, it does not seem like a noticeable gesture. But sometimes it is, however small or insignificant it may be to you.

(regardless of China/Britain's economic faults- I'm speaking only in terms of etiquette)

Richy said...

Your failure to still answer some basic questions from my alleged ‘toxic spew’ shows your true character Anna.

Why do you refuse to answer my question about Liu Xiaobo and Ai Wei Wei? Because the truth would hurt you, that’s why.

Why don’t you answer about how many were murdered in the making of modern China and how many more will be oppressed and killed, imprisoned?

You seriously do not expect anyone to believe that the millions killed, starved, tortured to be a better system than the West?

I absolutely agree that the Neo-Cons and all the other greedy scum who have murdered, invaded and killed for their agenda is just as horrific, this is not X Factor Anna where you can say ‘your Regime was worse than ours!’ It is all on a par, same level, Right Left, Up or Down, exploitation and mass murder is equal. They are both as bad as each other.

Why do I post on here? You have managed, as previously mentioned, to turn a supposedly apolitical symbol for those killed, Tory, Labour, Liberal, Communist, Irish, Black, Asian in all conflicts. You’re wrong when you mentioned it is a WW1 symbol only, what about the defeat of Nazi Germany?

What about those British Communists and Left who fought against Franco and his fascists then returned to the UK to fight Hitler? You insult those with your comments.

One thing about Rem Sunday is it brings everyone together, but not you!

Sorry can I just clarify that you’ve never been or even visited the PRC??

So there you go, you are outraged because UK politicians ‘dare’ to wear a poppy and insult a war that happened in the ‘Victorian’ era? Yet there are still people alive today who experienced WW2?

You’ve turned this into a ‘football’ type argument: ‘Don’t come into this pub wearing that shirt!’. Have you been watching too much Jeremy Kyle or something?

Finally, the BBC, that reminds me, will you raise this point with anyone there about their presenters in China also wearing poppies? As was seen over the last few days, there, it’s not just politicians who are choosing to wear them.

Great support from your 2 Blog friends, they can share some of the guilt for your inappropriate comments.

Yep keep swimming Anna you’ve a long way to go, next stop Tibet, I’ll send you some blow up arm bands!


Tom said...

@Richy - just because the relevance was lost on you, doesn't mean it will be lost on everyone else.

Besides, the poppy has nothing to do with the 'defence of democracy'. Even if you accept the very questionable notion that WWII was about 'defending democracy' (it wasn't, it was about maintaining hegemony: we're fortunate that we won and that our enemy was even worse than us), WWI, Suez, Northern Ireland, Falklands, Gulf War 1 and 2, Afghanistan: none of those have anything to do with democracy. They're all colonial wars. Just like the Opium Wars were.

And you're the one insulting the socialists and communists who fought for revolution in Spain. NOT ONE of those Tory MPs (or anyone else, for that matter), wears a poppy for them. Britain betrayed Spain then. The poppy has nothing to do with revolutionary wars anywhere. That ought to be clear from the fact that it's a scheme run by the Royal British Legion, dedicated to "our heroes": the British armed forces.

VenerableSage said...

Way to miss the point, Richy ... and to do your best to ensure that other people do as well.

Richy said...

Once again you've all gone very quiet about naming and shaming this wonderful regime that Anna defends so vigorously.

If your going to slate something then you've got to be prepared to 'reap the seeds'....people who live in glass houses and all that!

Anna and yourselves seem to label anyone who wears a poppy as a British Imperialist..which is an insult to the dead, for the sake of one week a year, everyone remembers, you are a tiny tiny minority.

Yes they even fought for you lot.

I hate the politicians as much as you, that's not why I choose to wear a poppy.

So we should have let the Argentinians keep over 3000 people under occupation? Where did Argentina originate from? The Spanish who stole that land.

Lets let a minority terrorist organisation in NI dictate to nearly 2 million Catholics and Protestants what nationality to be. Give them a referendum I say, you'd be very surprised with the result.

Hey blame the politicians for Iraq/Afghan, not working class lads and girls who were sent.

When people wear a poppy they do so for everyone who fought, nonsense your saying they pick and choose.

Perhaps you would like to have lived under Nazi rule...or go and live in China folks..would a Blog like this be able to function.

You know the answer to that!

My point is very clear.

Now get back in your hypocritical ivory towers my friends.

Stuart said...

Richy, you show your cultural arrogance and ignorance in not understanding the importance of the Opium Wars to the Chinese as did Cameron and his upper class chums.

As a senior teacher in a school in Indonesia I would get upset by similiar ignorance of the local culture by Oh so superior cultural imperialists.

Unknown said...

First off congrats is due to MM for publishing Richy's commnets. My personal opinion on that score is Richy is truly blessed to be able to view the history, social and econmoical as well as the political intracies and complexties of Birtish-Sino relations and indeed the Western-Sino relattions, in such a clear, untainited and assured manner. I wish I could do the same - perhaps if we all had that ability life would be so much easier to deal with.
Neither regime is perfect, who is?
To pressume on behalf of a nation, society and culture that wearting a poppy bears no relationship to past events is frankly gob-smackingly insulting and arrogant. Just because "I" think it means one thing does not necessarily follow that "everytone" else will think or feel the same way!

BBC Ronin said...

By the looks of it the Western media is making a bigger deal about it than China does.

Richy said...

Your probably quite right BBC!

Gwei Mui please use a spell checker..enough said.

Well Anna you've failed to answer if you've ever actually visited China and my other questions..

..just to inform you...the RBL sold over 46 million poppies this year....that's 46 million voices saying your have a tiny tiny minority voice in your opinion!

Bye for now


Madam Miaow said...

If you are going to criticise someone for spelling, Richy, perhaps you should learn the difference between "your" and "you're". Enough said.

Laban said...

I'm very surprised that the Chinese Government, representing a nation of high intelligence and with a cultural history which is perhaps unsurpassed, should have confused the corn poppy of Flanders, papaver rhoeas, which is the symbol of Remembrance Day and which contains no opium, with the opium poppy papaver somniferum. They don't even look the same, although all poppies have some similarities - and opium poppies aren't usually red.