BEIJING – Britain should recognize it is not a “big” power, but “just an old European country apt for travel and study,” Chinese state-run media snapped Tuesday as Prime Minister David Cameron visits.
“China won’t fall for Cameron’s ‘sincerity,’ ” the headline of the sharply written editorial in the Global Times newspaper said, after Beijing was outraged by Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.
It had led to a diplomatic deep freeze between the two nations, but on Monday the British prime minister met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing where he signed a series of trade deals, before holding talks with President Xi Jinping.
Cameron has kept human rights firmly to the sidelines during his time in China, but the Global Times said his three-day visit “can hardly be the end of the conflict between China and the U.K.”
“Beijing needs to speed up the pace of turning its strength into diplomatic resources and make London pay the price for when it intrudes into the interests of China,” the editorial said.
China denounces the Dalai Lama — who says he only wants greater autonomy for Tibetans — as a dangerous separatist.
“The Chinese government will surely show courtesy to Cameron. But the public does not forget his stance on certain issues,” the paper added.
The editorial also criticized London’s interference in the “transition process” of Hong Kong, a British colony before 1997 that is due to adopt universal suffrage to choose its chief executive in four years’ time.
It warned that “Sino-British ties can be halted again” over the issue.
“The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the U.K. is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese,” it added.
“It is just an old European country apt for travel and study.”
The Global Times has close ties to the ruling Communist Party and often takes a nationalist stance.
A more conciliatory editorial appeared in the China Daily, which said Cameron’s visit will help “pave the way for bilateral ties to flourish.”