In my last piece on this site, I discussed some of the main themes in current Sino-British trade ,and began to look at some remedies needed. In particular, I tackled one great area of complacency: the idea that although Britain's services-focused economic structure was not as strong in the emerging markets as manufacturing powerhouses such as Germany, we would still benefit in the "next cycle", as those economies matured and required services. I pointed out that there are precious few examples of any emerging markets allowing as much foreign presence in services as they do in products - and that this hope was most likely a fallac.
Following on from this, and partly in relation to some of the responses I have had, both to the piece and more generally, I want to tackle the second great area of complacency which I detect in our British mentality: the idea that as long as we keep our own house in order, things will be fine. This school of thought argues in essence that we do not need such a thing as a "China policy", or an "India policy" or anything else. We should remain true to who we are (possibly in conjunction with an exit from Europe), and our patience will be rewarded.
For a start, this way of thinking demonstrates a dangerous parochialism which prevents Britain from taking on the challenges of globalisation head-on. It is instructive to note how far we are from our American cousins for whom "China is an overarching backdrop to almost everything" being discussed on Capitol Hill. Naturally. we do not have their geo-political priorities But, ideally, our own discourse should resemble more closely that description than the sad "black box" which currently exists. We need to talk more at Westminster about China.
Moreover, this attitude does not recognise the realities of our current relative position, or future trajectory. At some point, Britain will have to embrace its position as an underdog rather than a major player, and we have to understand that how we implement and conduct government-to-government trade policy is totally different in each circumstance. The days of corporate imperialism - when Britain could aim to dictate trade with the emerging markets on its own or even equal terms - are long gone. Instead, we must be flexible, and aim to shape ourselves to provide what others need on their terms.