View Full Version : Cameron Risks Spat With Chinese by Wearing Poppy During Visit

11-10-2010, 12:38 PM
Cameron Risks Spat With Chinese by Wearing Poppy During Visit
By Robert Hutton - Nov 10, 2010 3:47 AM MT

David Cameron, the U.K.'s prime minister, left, and Wen Jiabao, China's prime minister. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron resisted a request from Chinese officials yesterday to remove the poppy symbol that Britons wear every November in memory of their war dead during his visit to Beijing, according to two British officials familiar with the matter.

Poppies have been Britain’s symbol of remembrance since World War I, when the flowers grew on battlefields. The Royal British Legion sells paper poppies in November to raise funds for veterans in the run-up to Armistice Day on Nov. 11.

The flower has a different resonance in China, which fought and lost two Opium Wars with Britain in the 19th century. Those resulted in the U.K. forcing the Chinese to open their borders to trade, including in the narcotic derived from the Asian variety of the poppy. Britain also gained the territory of Hong Kong, which was not handed back to China until 1997.

“The Chinese leadership is increasingly projecting a ‘Great Power’ mentality and it is a reflection of rising nationalism in the country,” Joseph Cheng, a political-science professor at the City University of Hong Kong, said in a phone interview. “The Chinese leaders understand very well that the Chinese people in general expect their leadership to fight for an enhancement of China’s international status. The performance of Chinese leaders in diplomacy becomes an important source of the regime’s legitimacy.”

Honor Guard

The U.K. officials said the Chinese requested the prime minister and his delegation remove the poppies from their lapels before they arrived yesterday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where Cameron was greeted by Premier Wen Jiabao and inspected an honor guard of the People’s Liberation Army. The U.K. government refused, on the grounds that the symbol was important to Britain.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today that it had no knowledge of the incident.

Bloomberg ( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-09/cameron-risks-spat-with-chinese-by-wearing-poppy-during-visit-to-beijing.html)

11-10-2010, 01:45 PM
Now that's diplomacy!

Standing up for your values commands respect. Folding at the first sign of conflict invites contempt. Notice that the Chinese response is to pretend that nothing is wrong, in order to save face. Obama would have acquiesed and invited further demands.