Posted on Feb 15, 2020
There has been widespread fury, not least from the United States and from within the Conservative Party itself over the government's decision to allow China's Huawei a role in building the UK's 5G network. A highly dubious report from "former" security experts, employed by Huawei itself, formed the basis of Boris Johnson's decision that the deal poses no risk to Britain's national security, writes Gary Cartwright.
Washington is furious, Beijing and Moscow will surely be laughing.
It is now reported that the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) is in talks with with the British government about taking on the £100 billion project. CRCC has said it can build the line in just five years, and has also claimed the high speed link could be completed at a much lower cost than is currently forecast, according to the Financial Times.
Britain needs to think hard about how we partner with countries that don't share our respect for human rights or the rule of law. The price of the project may be lower but the cost to our sovereignty could be higher than we ever imagined. There's no point in taking back control from Brussels only to hand it over to Beijing.
That is £100 billion that should be spent with British companies, paying corporate tax in Britain, and creating British jobs.
CRCC, like most such major Chinese enterprises, was born of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Should its engineers and technicians be found in the UK building HS2, they will be serving members of the PLA.
However, given that privatisation, which might more accurately be called "asset stripping", of UK public services generally involves selling off what should be public property to offshore corporations, there should be little surprise here.
Britain's appalling and over priced railways, and many functions of the equally appalling and hugely expensive NHS are also "outsourced". This is one of the main reasons both are so expensive. Even cutting edge defence sector enterprises are being sold to China.
Is this how Boris Johnson's government intends to shape Britain's post-Brexit economy? If so we can only shudder at what his trade deal with the United States will look like.
Speaking of Brexit. HS2, which the government appears determined to go ahead with this project in the face of mounting public opposition and mounting costs, is an EU project. This detail is not being mentioned at all, but has been openly discussed in Brussels since the project's inception.
HS2 is a part of the EU'S Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), and is the stretch that will see Glasgow connected with Marseille.
To put it bluntly, the British taxpayer will send as much as £100 billion to China in order to fund an ill-conceived and unpopular EU infrastructure project.
Is this what the British electorate voted for in the June 2016 referendum? Apparently it is.
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