Beijing to Britain

New Beijing to Britain offer, British Embassy in Beijing, Foreign Affairs Committee on Xinjiang, businesses pivot East

Hello,

There seems to be universal agreement that the UK needs an updated ‘China Strategy’. This would inform Government and Whitehall thinking, provide the necessary clarity to businesses operating between both countries, and help outline Britain’s ambitions on the global stage.

In its absence, political views on what this strategy should be are polarised. At its simplest, two loose schools of thought have emerged in Westminster. One calls for a fundamental reset of British relations with China. Any forward relationship must take place through a Western values system, championing human rights over trade. The other school pushes for a realpolitik approach; while the so-called ‘Golden Era’ may be over, it is better to keep China at the table through diplomacy and trade - without these, the UK has no leverage or bargaining chips. It’s worth noting that neither school believes that an enriched Chinese middle class will steer the country towards democracy.

The majority of China-centric politicians in the UK can roughly be placed into one of these schools, although their views often change depending on the issue at play. Crucially overlooked is the presence of a handful of key advisors and campaigners, who have played a significant and influential role in forcing the Government’s hand on China.

And so ‘Beijing to Britain’ was born - a weekly overview of the ebbs and flows of this discussion, and how it impacts politics, the private sector and society.

As always: tips, feedback, and your views to BeijingToBritain@protonmail.com.

Subscribe to Beijing to Britain

One final thing: Following significant reader interest and feedback, we have decided to run a fortnightly analysis of a major policy or research paper, or an essay of note. This will cover papers primarily produced in the UK for a UK audience, but will naturally include those of significance published by allies and other countries that influence British decision making. The first analysis will be arriving this week - please let us know what evening you would prefer by taking part in this quick poll (takes less than five seconds.)


Politics

  • Hong Kong

  • British Embassy in Beijing

  • David Cameron on China

  • Foreign Affairs Committee on Xinjiang

Business

  • Universities at risk over financial dependence

  • Prudential and Schroders

  • UK and US agree tariff freeze to combat China

Society

  • Climate change


First, a quick look at this week for China in Parliament

  • 15 mentions of China

  • 0 mentions of Xi Jinping

  • 6 mentions of Hong Kong

  • 2 mentions of Uyghurs

  • 0 mentions of CCP

  • 3 mentions of Magnitsky

  • 589 out of 650 MPs (90.6%) have a Twitter account.



Who’s asking what?

Order! Order!

Some of the more notable questions asked of the Government this week

  • Lord Tunnicliffe askedHer Majesty's Government (1) how many, and (2) what, items of second-hand Chinese equipment have been purchased by the Ministry of Defence in each year since 2015.”

  • Afzal Khan askedwhat progress he has made on identifying and applying sanctions against senior Chinese Government officials responsible for human rights violations against (a) the Uyghur people and (b) Hong Kong citizens.”

  • Margaret Ferrier askedthe Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether he plans to add Chen Quanguo to the UK sanctions list.”



Spotted

This one slipped under our radar a fortnight ago. The Great Britain China Centre (GBCC) has appointed Sir David Lidington KCB CBE, former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as honorary Vice President. Lidington is also Chair of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

This move further beefs the GBCC’s political clout (and means they now have two former Chancellors of the Duchy of Lancaster). Among its other key members are:

  • Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, as a Director

  • Rupert Ainley OBE, Head of China Department, FCDO, as a Director

  • Lord Mandelson, as Honorary Chair

  • Sir David Brewer, former Chair of the Board, GBCC; former Lord Mayor of London, as Vice President

  • Sir John Major, former Prime Minister, as Vice President

  • Sir Oliver Letwin MP, former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as Vice President

  • Lord Powell of Bayswater, Co-Chair, Asia Task Force; former Private Secretary to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as Vice President

Fancy some further Sunday reading? Here are all of Lidington’s mentions of China in Parliament.

Share



Politics

Hong Kong charges, Two Sessions, British Embassy in Beijing, Foreign Affairs Committee on Xinjiang

A couple of hours after our Briefing arrived in your inbox last week, Hong Kong authorities charged 47 politicians & activists for subversion under the National Security Law (more details on Hong Kong Free Press). This marked the largest use to date of the subversion charge under the NSL, prompting Human Rights Watch to state:

“The Chinese government is showing Hong Kong and the world that it stands in direct opposition to human rights and democracy.”

This takes place against the backdrop of the beginning of the Two Sessions; the annual gathering of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) (good explainer from the South China Morning Post). Speaking to those gathered, CPPCC Chairman and 4th-ranked Party official Wang Yang said the CPPCC will:

“Firmly support the full implementation of the principle of ‘patriots ruling Hong Kong’… [and] conduct research and consultation on strengthening patriotic education for the youth of Hong Kong and Macau.”

The city was also delisted from the US-think tank’s Heritage Foundation economic freedom index, as in their view its economic policies are “ultimately controlled from Beijing.” As the week progressed, further announcements around the future of Hong Kong’s independent and unique political system painted a bleak picture. A report from Hong Kong Watch outlined Beijing’s use of ‘economic coercion’ as a key strategy of control in the city. Politico quotes former British Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten on the announcements regarding the elections:

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, called it "the biggest step so far to obliterate Hong Kong's freedoms and aspirations for greater democracy under the rule of law."

"Breaking all its promises, not least those made by Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese Communist Party has ordained that in order to be a Chinese patriot you must swear allegiance to the Communist Party," Patten added. "This completely destroys the pledge of 'one-country, two-systems.' The Chinese Communist Party has shown the world once again that it cannot be trusted."

Against palpable anger in Westminster over perceived Government inaction on Hong Kong, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab issued another statement, which read:

The decision to charge 47 Hong Kong politicians and activists for conspiracy to commit subversion under the National Security Law is another deeply disturbing step. It demonstrates in the starkest way the use of the law to stifle any political dissent, rather than restore security which was the claimed intention of the legislation. The National Security Law violates the Joint Declaration, and its use in this way contradicts the promises made by the Chinese government, and can only further undermine confidence that it will keep its word on such sensitive issues.

Elsewhere in the Hong Kong-UK field, Stephen Kinnock, shadow minister for Asia and the Pacific (and IPAC member); Holly Lynch, shadow minister for immigration; and Steve Reed, shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, wrote a letter to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, saying they are:

“Increasingly concerned that there appears to have been little or no planning done for the integration of BNO visa holders into British society.”

“This is a significant movement of people which presents many opportunities but also challenges that will need to be managed effectively,” they wrote, adding that government should work with local authorities to head off problems for Hong Kongers in “settling, integrating, accessing the labour market and using public services.”

This forced a partial change in the Government’s position, and the Home Office lifted a ban on access to public funds for Hong Kongers settling in the U.K. who might be at risk of falling into poverty. Full statement here.

Finally, an interesting snippet in the Telegraph, which reports that property buyers from Hong Kong purchased 8% of homes sold in London's wealthiest areas in 2020, according to a report by Hamptons International, four times 2019’s figure.

Share


British Ambassador in the headlines

On Tuesday, ahead of attending the launch of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) annual report, British Ambassador to China Caroline Wilson posted an article on WeChat (available here in Mandarin). Against the backdrop of the recent BBC World News ban, her article aimed to explain:

Why foreign media criticizing the Chinese authorities does not mean that they do not like China. On the contrary, I think they act in good faith and play an active role as a monitoring agency of government actions, ensuring that people have access to accurate information, and protecting those who have no voice.

我将在本文中解释为什么外国媒体批评中国当局并不意味着他们不喜欢中国。相反,我认为他们本着诚意行事,作为政府行为的监督机构发挥着积极作用,确保人们能够获得准确的信息,并保护那些没有发言权的人。

The piece cited several examples of a free media holding the British Government and others to account; the expenses scandal, Jeremy Paxman’s interview with Michael Howard, and an investigation into abuses at a nursing home in Durham in 2019. Wilson went on to explain that Chinese media could be critical, but only under conditions provided by the Chinese Government. She highlighted the work of Chinese journalists at the beginning of the pandemic, shedding light on the situation in Wuhan and beyond.

WeChat quickly intervened, limiting the ability for users to share the post on the site.

This in turn attracted the ire of a selection of British politicians, including Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and CRG co-founder Tom Tugendhat:

A studious reader analysed some of the WeChat comments left on the piece and highlighted the following:

我们自己监督就可以了,其他的不需要 - we can monitor ourselves, we don’t need others to do it for us

真的假不了,假的真不了。西方媒体关于中国抗疫有关的报道违背了中国普通人的真实感受,所以西方媒体认为中国政府隐瞒真相,实在是小瞧了中国普通人的事实分辨力 - truths cannot be faked; fakes cannot be made true. The Western media in its coverage of the pandemic has not considered the real feelings of the Chinese people. So the media believe that the Chinese government has hidden the truth from the Chinese people, that really is underestimating the ability of normal Chinese people to determine what the facts are

每次看外媒报道,就觉得他们不是在抹黑国家,而是在侮辱我们普通人的智商,在他们眼里我们就是被洗脑的傻子,我们都要靠他们拯救 - when ever I look at the western media, I don’t think they are trying to discredit the country. It’s more that they are insulting the intelligence of the Chinese people. According to them we are brain washed idiots, that need to be saved by them.

支持苏格兰独立 - support Scottish independence! [this was mentioned a few times]

还是去监督英国新冠到底死了多少吧 - perhaps the media should monitor how many people have died due to corona virus in the UK   

西方媒体代表中国人监督中国政府,这才是真正的国际主义精神啊!我感动的都哭了 - international media helping the Chinese people monitoring it own government? This is the true spirit of internationalism! [sarcastic]

Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin made an appearance in Wilson’s article:

Many Chinese journalists and companies support more media freedom. Although the "Global Times" as an official media recently criticized foreign media reports, its editor-in-chief Hu Xijin had previously called for a more open voice. He wrote on Weibo:

China should still let go of its words, encourage and tolerate constructive criticism.

很多中国记者和企业都支持给与更多空间的媒体自由。虽然《环球时报》作为官方媒体近期抨击了外媒报道,但其总编胡锡进之前曾呼吁广开言路。在微博上他这样写道:

中国还是应多放开言路,鼓励、宽容建设性批评。

Within a couple of hours two Global Times stories appeared. The first, titled ‘Experts dispute British Ambassador's opinion, say too many ideologically biased reports cripple Western media's credibility in China’ included this statement:

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times that Wilson has only been ambassador since September 2020, so she might not have learnt how unwelcome some Western media outlets are in China, and she also mistakenly believes that some Western journalists are supervising the Chinese government, but in fact they are launching an ideological propaganda warfare against the Chinese political system and the country's mainstream values.

The second piece came from Hu himself. Headlined Foreign media timid to break Western stereotype, explain complexity of China, he explained:

Caroline Wilson, UK ambassador to China, on Tuesday post an article in Putonghua (Chinese) on why international media criticism on Chinese authorities is not China hating. The article quoted my narratives on advocating China of accepting more diverse views. Yes, that's exactly what I said. Working for a media outlet, I can understand foreign correspondents' desire to have as much space as possible to engage in their coverage in China. But Wilson's rhetoric on freedom of the press is too simple, which conceals or even distorts the real relationship between media and reality.

Wilson admitted that Chinese media played a big role in the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, but she believed such a role is limited. My opinion differs from hers. The coverage from Chinese media on the epidemic was not as extensive as their counterparts in the UK and the US, but Chinese media's reporting have had vital effects. Chinese media's reporting, involving the internet, made the country adjust promptly and contributed to drawing up a determined road map to fight COVID-19.

By contrast, there have been many reports in the UK and the US, and some words they used are also quite harsh, but have they actually worked in practice? Trump has been giving contempt to criticism from media outlets. Where is the practical and effective supervision of public opinion? The result is that the US and the UK were bad at fighting the epidemic, and China quickly made decisive achievements in this fight. Which side - China or the West - values and respects the voice of public opinion more? Which side's practical policy is more in line with public opinion?

Personally speaking, I don't think all Western correspondents in China are "extremely anti-China." I understand that it is not easy for them to be caught between what they see in reality and the overall attitude of the West toward China. However, I would like to point out the fact that they have not played an active role in the communication between China and the West as a whole. Subjectively or objectively, they have only added fuel to the deepening of the cognitive gap between China and the West.

These foreign correspondents are in China, where many things are different from their values.  However, they can and should feel the complexity of China's reality and understand that China and the Communist Party of China are not as simple as the West has labeled. China has its own internal logic, and whether the West likes it or not, this logic has supported China's development and progress. Thus, a crude and fundamental smear against it would be unfair, even absurd, in any case.

The overall tone of the article was balanced; especially as Hu has a well-noted tendency to lean towards aggressive criticism.

For those of us who watch the British Embassy in China’s output as a (really cool and normal) hobby, it’s clear that there has begun to be a steady rise of slightly more challenging content that it’s given credit for. If we were to speculate, we would attribute this in part to the Head of Communications at the Embassy, Ashley Rogers. We featured his WeChat post in December last year, which covered the mistakes the UK had made on the human rights front with relation to the detention camps used in the Boer War, and what lessons China could learn from Britain’s errors.

This followed a post by the Embassy on WeChat earlier that year in June, which aimedto respond to errors in media reporting on the UK and Hong Kong.’ The Embassy press release continues:

The article was blocked after two hours but in that short time was viewed 350k times – the highest for any article we have ever posted.

We also received 1,050 comments. Many of your comments supported the new national security law and disagreed with the UK’s criticism but some welcomed the opportunity to hear a different voice and our point of view.

Share


Cameron on China

We have big decisions to make on the relationship with China and what we do post-DfID in all the relationships with Africa”. So spoke former Prime Minister David Cameron at his appearance before the National Security Strategy Committee this week, with Lord Ricketts, former National Security Adviser. The entire transcript can be read here; China is mentioned 18 times.

Questioned by Tom Tugendhat over the role of the National Security Council with regards to China, Cameron replied:

You and I might totally disagree when it comes to the relationship with China, but that is exactly the sort of discussion the NSC should be having now that Brexit is finished. What will our relationship with China be like? How do you take advantage of the rise of India?

Later in the session, chair of the APPG on China Richard Graham asked Cameron:

You highlighted earlier the fact that the UK-China relationship is a very important one for the NSC to look at, perhaps even more so now than when you were Prime Minister. My memory of the time around 2010 to 2016 was that part of the drive for the strategic partnership was about drawing in capital for infrastructure needs in the UK. To what extent can the NSC balance that sort of economic need on the one hand with the difference in values that our two countries have on the other, while also thinking about bigger-picture co-operation on everything from the environment to international threats?

To which the former Prime Minister replied:

It is the proper place to have the argument. There was an argument, because there were different people around the table arguing for different things. Some were keener on prioritising the economic partnership and driving that. Some were very concerned about the difference in values and issues of human rights. That debate was had. My view has always been that, if you want dialogue and discussion with China on human rights, driving economic partnership deepens the dialogue rather than threatens it. If you become a more important and more strategic partner, you are better able to have those conversations, as I did with President Xi. People will argue about whether or not we made the right or wrong decisions, but the one thing I would challenge is that proper discussions were not held on, for instance, the issue over Huawei and involvement in UK infrastructure. The NSC is absolutely the right place to have that discussion. You might want, as we did, to set up separate bodies to look through the individual detail of individual issues, but that is the right place to hear the arguments and the expertise. The advice we had, for instance, over Huawei was very much in tune with what we then did.

No update as to where Cameron’s $1bn China investment fund has got to.

Share


Foreign Affairs Committee on Xinjiang

On Tuesday, as part of its inquiry into Xinjiang camps, the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) heard evidence from four experts across two sessions:

  • Dr Samantha Hoffman, Senior Analyst at Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)

  • Dr Radomir Tylecote, Director, Defence and Security for Democracy Unit at Civitas

  • Chloe Cranston, Business and Human Rights Manager at Anti-Slavery International

  • Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch

Topics ranged from the level of Chinese surveillance company Hikvision’s penetration into the UK market, through to China’s digital currency electronic payment system, and then the relationship between British universities and China. A couple of key moments, edited for brevity:

Bob Seely MP (IPAC member): . Let us put ourselves on the side of the universities. Are they being complicit and not really caring whether they are dealing with a one-party authoritarian state, or are they just being complacent, because—clearly—they need funding? As Dr Hoffman pointed out, there is a funding model for UK in which they have to be going out selling their wares. What are the pressures on universities that make—superficially—some very questionable and ethically confused choices?

Dr Tylecote: Clearly, there is quite a degree of complacency. There is no question of that.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald MP: I have a question in relation to investments specifically for Dr Tylecote. Are you familiar with the Rosslea Hall Hotel in Scotland?

Dr Tylecote: I am not.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald MP: It was purchased just over a year ago by Chinese investors. It is based on the west of Scotland, which you will know is where the UK’s nuclear deterrent is based—in fact, it is within the line of sight of the choke point at which submarines come in and out of the Faslane naval base. It is my understanding that a similar attempt was made to purchase property—I think I am right in saying it was a hotel—in the US, which was blocked by US authorities on the grounds that there were concerns about Chinese investors, perhaps with connections to state intelligence. I make no accusation of that in the case of the Rosslea Hall Hotel in Scotland, just to be clear, but there have been concerns that that is a pattern that the Chinese state follow in places such as Australia, fore xample, where they would purchase these properties that are close to sensitive national assets or infrastructure in order to essentially spy on them and monitor them. Could you speak to that issue? If it were to be the case that there was some kind of connection to the Chinese state in the Scottish case, what checks would that go through in the UK in order to assess whether or not it posed any kind of threat?

Share


Odds and ends

  • To the House of Commons for a worthwhile discussion of the role of the British Council as a soft power influencer, and why it should be included in the upcoming Integrated Review (transcript here).

  • The International Relations and Defence Committee has launched an inquiry into ‘The UK’s security and trade relationship with China’. First meeting saw evidence from Charles Parton OBE, Senior Associate Fellow at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Dr Yu Jie, Research Fellow on China at Chatham House

  • The Guardian reports that the Integrated Review will be published on the 16 March, followed by a defence command paper on 22 March, detailing a five-year plan for the armed forces in response to the wider strategy. It includes plans to be announced shortly that include investing in “China-facing capabilities” to “better understand and respond to the systemic challenge that China poses” – thought particularly to focus on cybersecurity.

  • Nigel Farage has quit his role as leader of the Reform Party to focus on China. He told the Telegraph:

    He wants to “do battle” on two “very big” issues: “One is the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party is taking over our lives and certainly has undue influence in our country.

    Readers will remember we predicted this happening at the beginning of the year.

Share



Spotted

This week the Biden Administration published its catchily-named Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which aims to:

Convey President Biden’s vision for how America will engage with the world, and to provide guidance for departments and agencies to align their actions as the Administration begins work on a National Security Strategy.

As well as mentioning China 15 times throughout, there should be some back-slapping in Westminster following the inclusion of the line:

We will recommit ourselves to our transatlantic partnerships, forging a strong, common agenda with the European Union and the United Kingdom on the defining issues of our time.

No prizes for guessing what those ‘defining issues’ may be. Read the entire document here.

Share



Business

British universities, tariffs, Prudential and Schroders in Asia

Check your working

Another bruising week for British universities and their ties and collaborations with Chinese institutions, with a potentially tougher one on the horizon. Following story after story from the Telegraph on the issue, on Thursday the Financial Times shared details from an upcoming report on British universities and their Chinese links, due to be published this week.

The report has been driven by the Prime Minister’s brother, former Minister for Universities (and now Baron) Jo Johnson (himself a former Financial Times bureau chief). The paper describes it as:

The first comprehensive assessment of Sino-British research collaboration, counting the number of papers co-authored by academics in both countries.

Key details include:

  • The number of academic papers co-authored by Chinese and British researchers rose from 750 per year in 2000, or 1 per cent of UK output, to 16,267, or 11 per cent of output, in 2019.

  • In at least 20 subjects, including many in science and technology, collaborations with China now account for more than a fifth of high-impact research. In the highly sensitive areas of automation, telecommunications and materials science, more than 30 per cent of papers were Sino-British partnerships. 

  • Higher education exports to China are now the single largest UK services export to any country. The net value of hosting full time Chinese students was approximately £3.7bn in 2019 and 35 per cent of the UK’s non-EU student population are Chinese.

As covered in previous Briefings, British universities are in a tight spot. Many rely on Chinese student fees for a large section of their income, and have significant research and business links to Chinese institutions and companies (not an inherently negative thing, but clearly needs closer monitoring).

The report will raise uncomfortable questions for the Government; how should they monitor these types of collaborations, what should the official line be across departments, and is there a lack of British funding for these highly sensitive research subjects?

Share


No fly zone for tariffs

The United States and UK released a joint statement on Thursday announcing a four-month suspension of tariffs related to the ongoing large civilian aircraft dispute (background to that here). The justification for this can be found in the statement, which explains:

This will allow time to focus on negotiating a balanced settlement to the disputes, and begin seriously addressing the challenges posed by new entrants to the civil aviation market from non-market economies, such as China.

In an accompanying opinion piece in the TelegraphEnding US tariffs on exports is a major win for Global Britain’, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss explained:

The feud between the United States and the European Union over aircraft subsidies for Boeing and Airbus shows how damaging things can become, with other industries unfairly embroiled in the process.

No mention of China, although not hard to read between the lines:

The UK and US are united in our determination to build back better, and that mission goes beyond our shores. 

Together, we can write a new chapter for global trade, with the UK a newly-independent trading nation once again, a new US administration in place, and a new director-general at the World Trade Organisation.

Share


Prudential & Schroders

Another report this week from a British-headquartered institution powering further into Asia. Prudential announced reductions in staff in its London headquarters, with some being transferred to China. The Times reports the firm plans to raise $2.5 billion to $3 billion in new equity through a global offering to institutions and Hong Kong retail investors. Prudential’s shareholders are about 40% in the UK, 30% in the US, and 5% directly based in Asia.

This was followed closely by the news that Schroders plans to open ‘a standalone entirely Schroders-owned business’ in China. The fund manager already has a joint venture with the Bank of Communications in China, but this new expansion would see it become the first British fund manager to operate in the country without a local partner.

The Times reports:

While Schroders has yet to be given formal approval, it is understood to have met the various protocols. “We are one of a few international investment managers, and the first UK-domiciled, to be in a position to apply for a wholly owned fund management company licence,” it said.

Share


Odds and ends

  • Mega popular social media company TikTok has signed a 15-year lease for the 88,500 square foot (8,200 square meters) Kaleidoscope building in Farringdon. (Bloomberg)

  • British shoemaker Clarks is under new Chinese ownership, which may help the struggling brand succeed in the mainland. (Telegraph)

  • Keep an eye on freight prices in Asia-Europe trades. The high prices have meant some importers have begun to consider Turkey as a new sourcing location for a lot of products. (The Loadstar)

Share



Spotted

On Thursday, the Singapore-UK joint statement was published. This follows the Free Trade Agreement signed between both countries in December 2020, and

Reaffirm(s) both countries’ commitment to free trade, climate action, and sustainability.

The statement covers four key areas: Climate and sustainability , Technology , Knowledge and education and Security and resilience. Although China was not mentioned, several areas are of interest: a ‘UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA)’, a commitment to ‘strengthen collaboration in areas such as cross-border data flows, artificial intelligence’, and for both countries to remain part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

Share



Society

British and Chinese attitudes to climate change

At around 8:45 on Friday morning, listeners of Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme will have heard a discussion take place between two climate experts on the role of the environment in China’s economy and wider society at large, with a focus on the Five Year Plan. Sharing their views were Dimitri de Boer, Chief Representative in the China office of ClientEarth, and Isabel Hilton, founder of the influential China Dialogue. Listen to them talk here.

This lead us to examine some of the recent polling on both the UK and China’s popular views on climate change. Fortunately for us, ahead of COP26 taking place later this year in Glasgow, YouGov and the University of Cambridge surveyed citizens from the UK, US, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia and Poland on their views on climate change and if/what action should be taken.

The results showed citizens in both China and the UK want their Governments to take more action on climate change, although vary in the way this should be applied.

Participants were randomly assigned to read either one of four “treatment” texts about climate change – drafted to reflect current UN messaging, public health, social norms and patriotism – or a neutral text, unrelated to climate and used to test “baseline” support.

The participants were then asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement that “all national governments should do more to protect the environment.” 

Dr Lee de-Wit, a political psychologist at Cambridge, said that the clearest evidence that a message had had an impact was in China, “where pollution is a daily reality for many”. Support for more action rose from 91% to 95% among those that read about public health benefits of tackling climate change – a text that focused on air pollution.

Share



Where’s BTB?

Answers to BeijingToBritain@protonmail.com, or reply to this briefing.



Reading list

What we learned from this week



If you enjoyed this Briefing, please do sign up and share with colleagues. Thanks to HA for the illustrations.

Subscribe to Beijing to Britain