Britain’s Sudden Turn on China and Russia

The British are a peculiar bunch.  I’ve lived here for years now, and still occasionally find myself surprised once in a while by the sudden reversals in foreign policy.  It’s as though the FCO practices a unique brand of selective amnesia, chastising a certain government one moment, and then turning around the next minute with gracious gestures of friendship and alliance.

Case in point, I was surprised but not astonished to read on the BBC this morning that the UK has decided to legally recognize China’s rule over Tibet:

A senior Chinese official has welcomed the UK’s decision to recognise Beijing’s direct rule over Tibet.

Zhu Weiqun, who is leading talks with Tibetan exiles, told the BBC the move had brought the UK “in line with the universal position in today’s world”.

This policy flip flop is only topped by Peter Mandelson’s glowing endorsement of business as usual with Russia, despite open missile threats against Europe and a variety of other serious human rights issues.

Being flexible and adaptive in foreign policy is useful and advantageous in many cases, but these sudden reversals on China and Russia are quite a disturbing reminder of values vs. realpolitik in the current British government.