Earlier this month parts of the right-wing local and national press in the UK – Daily Mail, Times, City AM – covered Westminster’s criticism of the City of London banning a Taiwanese float from the Lord Mayor’s show. It goes without saying that these media outlets didn’t link the lack of democracy in the City – a local council elected on business votes rather than democratically controlled by local residents – and the authoritarian political system in China. Banning the Taiwanese float isn’t – as the right-wing media would have you believe – simply a matter of the City being greedy for Chinese money. The political system in the City of London is out of step with all other local authorities in the UK, but very much in step with authoritarian regimes around the world. Thus the City shares with China and others a desire to strangle local democracy anywhere it exists. From the first of at least two pieces in City AM:
The chair of the influential Foreign Affairs Select Committee has accused the City of London Corporation of allowing itself to be pushed around by China after the body banned Taiwan from participating in the Lord Mayor’s show.
In an unusual move, the City of London Corporation, which governs the Square Mile, went against the advice of the foreign office in its decision to block Taiwan from parading a float in the miles-long procession through central London, in which hundreds of countries from around the world are represented.
The Corporation’s decision has raised concerns among MPs and members of the House of Lords who say the City is bowing to pressure from China.
Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee told City A.M: “Free markets and free societies are based on the rule of law and individual rights. If we’re going to defend our liberal society and resist those who would push us around, those guarding our markets shouldn’t be bowing to foreign pressure. Nobody respects weakness.”
The issue was first raised during a Lords debate earlier this month, in which Baroness Barker, a Liberal Democrat peer, branded the intervention as a “petty” example of China’s “relentless campaign to deny Taiwan international recognition”.
While the UK does not recognise Taiwan as an independent state, the government is keen to support its membership of key organisations on the world stage, including the UN’s World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation.
During the debate, Conservative peer Lord Ahmad said that while the Lord Mayor’s office was independent of central government, the foreign office “continue[s] to support Taiwan’s inclusion in matters which do not confer statehood upon Taiwan and to which it brings cultural, economic and educational value.
“The Lord Mayor’s show falls within this category.”
The news of the ban comes just weeks after the government came under fire for its decision to allow Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to build part of the UK’s 5G network, despite concerns from the US and other allies that the company could be used as a proxy by the Chinese government to carry out spying.
Last month, a report produced by the City of London Corporation laid bare the volume of trading in Chinese currency that takes place in the capital. The average daily trading volume of the Renminbi in London in the fourth quarter of 2018 was £76.6bn, up 45 per cent on the previous year.
The Lord Mayor, Peter Estlin, expressed his support for China’s Belt and Road initiative, a campaign promoting Chinese investment around the world, on a fintech delegation to China in March. His enthusiasm has been shared by the Corporation’s policy chair, Catherine McGuinness, who said last month that there were “billions of pounds in trade opportunities” associated with the initiative.
One Corporation councillor told City A.M. that the decision to ban Taiwan was a “simple matter of money”.
“Taipei doesn’t have anywhere near the investment power that Beijing does,” they said. “The Corporation knows which side of its bread is buttered. The Corporation isn’t famed for its backbone when it comes to difficult political choices, but it’s particularly feeble to hang Taiwan out to dry quite so obviously.”
A spokesperson from the Lord Mayor’s Show Ltd said: “The Lord Mayor’s show is the biggest and most colourful event in the City’s calendar.
It is not a political event. It is a family-orientated day out, aimed at welcoming the new Lord Mayor into office.”
City Corporation slammed for decision to ban Taiwan float from Lord Mayor’s show by Alexandra Rogers, City AM, 14 May 2019. See the original piece here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190520052132/http://www.cityam.com/277616/city-corporation-slammed-decision-ban-taiwan-float-lord
From the Daily Mail:
As the political furore engulfs No10 over the reported decision to involve Huawei in the construction of Britain’s new 5G network, the Lord Mayor of London has been accused of kowtowing to China.
For I can disclose that current incumbent Peter Estlin is embroiled in a controversy after the organisers of this year’s spectacular Lord Mayor’s Show excluded Taiwan from the annual procession of floats from around the world.
Estlin, 57, is a Barclays executive who used to work for Salomon Brothers Asia. His year in office was inaugurated by the 2018 show.
Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin (left), 57, has come under fire after excluding a Taiwan float for this year’s Lord Mayor’s Show
Proudly independent of Communist mainland China, Taiwan has had a float for years, according to Lib Dem peer Baroness Barker.
She alleges the ban is to appease China, which does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign country, and claims it as part of its territory.
‘The Chinese have put pressure —as they do in all sorts of different ways — on the Lord Mayor’s office,’ she tells me.
‘So this time the Lord Mayor’s office has declined Taiwan’s application to participate.
‘It’s all part of the campaign by the Chinese government to diminish recognition of Taiwan.’
This sudden allergy to Taiwan coincides with the Government’s new-found appetite for doing business with China.
On Wednesday Gavin Williamson was fired as Defence Secretary for allegedly leaking details about the decision to involve Chinese contractor Huawei in the new mobile network.
A spokesman for the Lord Mayor’s Show Limited declines to say why Taiwan’s application has been rejected, nor whether the decision was taken by Estlin.
Memorialised in paintings by Canaletto and Hogarth, and originating 800 years ago, the Lord Mayor’s Show is the longest and, it is claimed, ‘the most splendid’ civic procession on Earth featuring a kaleidoscope of floats, as well as the 250-year-old State Coach.
Describing the three-mile long procession through the City of London in November as ‘a family-orientated day out, aimed at welcoming the new Lord Mayor into office’, the spokesman says: ‘It is not a political event.’
Lord Mayor ‘kowtows to China with Taiwan ban’ as Number 10 is engulfed by row over Huawei building UK’s 5G network by Sebastian Shakespeare, Daily Mail, 3 May 2019. See the original article here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190508051906/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6987077/SEBASTIAN-SHAKESPEARE-Lord-Mayor-kowtows-China-Taiwan-ban.html