David Cameron: we need nukes because of China

Posted: April 17th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

They steal our jobs, hack our computers and pollute the atmosphere. Now the Chinese are going to nuke us. That’s according to Conservative Party leader David Cameron who implied China could be a nuclear threat to the UK in the future.

Let me answer that directly because I think it’s important. I think the most important duty of any government, anyone who wants to be Prime Minister of this country, is to protect and defend our United Kingdom. And are we really happy to say that we’d give up our independent nuclear deterrent when we don’t know what is going to happen with Iran, we can’t be certain of the future in China, we don’t know exactly what our world will look like? I say we should always have the ultimate protection of our independent nuclear deterrent. That’s why we voted to make sure that happened.

One wonders whether Cameron relaxed before the debate by watching Tomorrow Never Dies – a James Bond flick about war brewing between the UK and China. This isn’t the first time Cameron has characterised China as a danger either – his debate remark was a repeat of what was said at a London brewery on April 12:

Iran? Sure. But China? Someone’s been reading Tom Clancy novels before bedtime. The UK’s relationship with China has admittedly been tense since the Copenhagen summit ended in ignominy last year but there is little to substantiate Cameron’s worry that China could threaten the UK in the future. Perhaps he believes that China will undergo a USSR-style disintegration, leading to the theft and trade of its nuclear arsenal. But if so, how will nuclear missiles on submarines act as a deterrent against bombs being smuggled into the country – surely the only way to use an illicitly acquired warhead? Whatever Cameron’s reasoning, opposition parties were quick to condemn his remark. British foreign secretary David Miliband tweeted afterwards:

For DC to lump China in same bracket as Iran re deterrent is an insult to fellow member of the UNSC. He shd withdraw.

He also felt sufficiently outraged by Cameron’s Yellow Peril fear to write a blog post:

For David Cameron to put China in the same bracket as Iran is completely irresponsible. China is our partner in tackling nuclear proliferation, and as their role at President Obama’s nuclear summit this week shows, in assuring nuclear security.

If this was a slip of the tongue then this is bad enough but David Cameron should apologise to China immediately.

Alistair Campbell, former government press secretary and now Gordon Brown’s debate coach, was a little less concerned about placating China:

William Hague will need to calm down the Chinese after Cameron put them into answer to a question about using nukes

@JamesDunningGeo Chinese don’t like Opposition parties so they were listening!

Best not to gloat too much Campbell – there are prominent Labour politicians who have cultivated relationships with the Chinese too.

But Cameron’s remark is odd in light of the 30-year history between the Conservative Party and China. It was during Margaret Thatcher’s government that the UK negotiated and formalised the agreement to hand Hong Kong back to the mainland in 1997. Consequently, Thatcher and by association the Tories are well-regarded in China. In fact, Thatcher was the only woman to appear in a newspaper poll of influential foreigners that helped shape China during 60 years of Communist Party rule.