By Ellen Huber
Image credit: Dan Marsh.
Despite a strained history between Prince Charles and China, he may be Britain’s only hope to soften Chinese outrage following Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, according to the Telegraph.
British bureaucrats are turning to the Prince of Wales to help salvage Sino-British relations following Cameron’s perceived blunder. Bureaucrats fear that China’s massive investment in Britain, coming in at £8 billion in 2012, is at risk amid faltering relations. Sir David Tang, a representative of the prince, says Charles is more than willing to step in.
Tang, a businessman hired by the prince in 2009 to head his charity in China, states, “I would not worry too much about precedents,” when offering unofficial advice to Cameron about his approach with China. He continues, “I would go there. What’s wrong with a bit of meekness in politics? Politicians shouldn’t regard what they do as symbolic.”
Tang doesn’t just point the finger at Britain though. “I very much doubt that David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama is the only reason behind the reported difficulties,” he said. “The decision-making process in China is covered by a curtain of opacity and secrecy.”
But Tang believes there are several steps Cameron should take to gain Chinese trust. He cites Prince Charles’s own immensely improved relationship with China. “He’s now very engaged with lots of Chinese people,” he declares.
It wasn’t always that way, however. Charles’s missteps with China began in 2002 when Charles took in two nuns who were allegedly tortured at the Chinese-run Drapchi prison in Lhasa, Tibet.
Then, in 2005, a journal entry of the prince’s was leaked discussing the Hong Kong handover of 1997. Charles reportedly called the Chinese leaders at the time “appalling old waxworks”.
Things went from bad to worse when the prince’s own friendly relationship with the Dalai Lama became heavily publicized. The Dalai Lama, the self-exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, met with Charles on numerous occasions, even visiting his London home.
Prince Charles isn’t the only Brit coming to Cameron’s aid though. Lord Charles Powell, who served at Baroness Thatcher’s secretary, is building relations in Beijing himself. Powell mentored Bo Guagua, the son of disgraced politician Bo Xilai. If Powell is able to help Bo Guagua overcome his family’s tarnished legacy then he’s obviously a miracle worker.