Cameron arrived in China bearing gifts... but there will be a price to pay

David Cameron realises that this remains a tricky trip for him

Shanghai

David Cameron came bearing gifts in a large aluminium case strapped across two seats of the Government's chartered Virgin 747 named 'Cosmic Girl'.

Among the goodies destined for the Communist leadership, were Charles Moore's biography of Thatcher, the first two volumes of Hilary Mantel's Booker winning novels about Thomas Cromwell and a framed black and white photograph of him and Samantha. You wonder what they'll make of them.

But beyond the pleasantries the gifts this has been a tricky trip so far for Mr Cameron.

On the one hand he is desperate to increase inward Chinese investment into the UK and clear the path for British firms to sell their products to the hugely expanding Chinese market. This he believes is key to securing and maintaining the economic recovery - as well as easing the pressure on stretched Government capital spending resources.

But on the other hand there is a price to pay for bringing the touchy and nationalist Communist leadership onboard.

While superficially the Chinese have rolled out the red carpet (and the Union Jacks flying from lamp posts in Tiananmen Square) there are still big underlying tensions.

Mr Cameron put Anglo-Chinese relations in the deep freeze for over a year after agreeing to meet the Dalai Lama in 2012 and this visit was postponed and postponed.

Mr Cameron knows his public utterings on human rights will be closely scrutinised by Beijing and he has been at pains not to cause offence.

But deference in China can be seen as subservience at home. And Mr Cameron's comments will equally be judged in the UK on very different terms.

So far Mr Cameron's carefully crafted language appears to be doing the trick.

Asked if he spoken to President Xi about Tibet or China's imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, Mr Cameron replied: "We spoke about all those issues as I always do."

But he certainly did not embarrass him with them publicly.

What worries some Chinese observers is that while the lure of investment from such a growing and dynamic economy may seem irresistible it may, in part, turn out to be a mirage.

They point to grand promises of a more open China in the past that have come to little. And they add that some of the firms lining up to invest in the UK may, when it comes to it, not actually have funds to put on the table.

The question Mr Cameron needs to ask is: What is the political price worth paying.

* 'Censorship' row overshadows David Cameron trip to woo China  

* China emerges as potential leading partner for controversial HS2 rail link  

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?