Blog Archive

Thursday, July 1, 2021

China Today, Brexit 6 Months on, Roaming Charges are Back, British not free to travel.

 China Today

My attitude towards China has become increasingly negative in recent months following the outbreak of the global pandemic, the treatment of many minorities including the Uighurs, the removal of freedoms in Hong Kong, all alongside their rapidly increasing economic power and global clout.

It can be argued that the Chinese government is free to do whatever it likes at home. I am certainly free to chose where I spend my money. Or am I?

I now try to look at the place of manufacture of anything I but so I can avoid products made in China; it's much harder than you may think. Many clothes, electrical appliances, gadgets and virtually all toys are 'Made in China'. I spent half an hour in a large toyshop looking for something for my grandson but everything was Made in China. Even the books. All of them.

Beyond trade, over 90 countries have been using one of the two Chinese COVID-19 vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac. China has been distributing its vaccines to poorer countries in an initiative to gain favour and boost its image and influence. Unfortunately, we are now starting to see signs that the vaccines are not very effective. 

The Seychelles is one of these countries - using mainly Sinopharm - and is the most vaccinated country in the world, with an even higher rate than Israel. Despite this a new wave has just broken out there and the number of new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases per million is 716 against 4.95 in Israel. This is deeply worrying in a fully vaccinated country.

Does it work well enough?

If you consider the potential consequences of this - China itself is vaccinating a population of over one billion with these drugs - they may be catastrophic. Clearly this pandemic still has a very long way to run. It is only just starting in Africa where at least one country (South Africa) has rejected the AstraZeneca vaccine in favour of a Chinese one.

It is time that the Chinese rulers grow up and start acting responsibly, in line with their size and desired respectability. If they continue as they do currently, China will become hated across the globe. My heart goes out to the people of Hong Kong who are having their liberties removed day by day. I welcome them to the UK.

Brexit 6 months on

"A Michelin-star restaurant has said it will no longer open at lunchtimes due to a shortage of staff.

David Moore, the founder of Pied à Terre in London, said he decided to halt the restaurant's lunchtime menu to "preserve" his depleted workforce.

David Moore, Pied a Terre, Fitzrovia, London

Mr Moore said Brexit was "definitely the biggest" factor behind staff shortages, and he said the "heartbeat" of the hospitality industry was "young kids" coming from abroad to work in restaurants and bars to gain life experience and new skills.

"[The government] don't realise the huge commodity we have that they have excluded us from, that keeps this industry moving more than anything else," he said.  He said before the pandemic, just three out of his 30-strong workforce were British. His restaurant currently has 12 staff."

BBC News June 22nd 2021

What can I say?

This piece from the BBC is a very familiar story, repeated week after week in successive sectors. It started with the fishing industry, part of which (shellfish) appears to have been partially destroyed and is marching ruthlessly through many others.

I have already talked about the fields of daffodils going to waste through lack of the traditional European pickers. Farmers are complaining, restauranteurs and pub owners are complaining, and now there are talks of food shortages due to lack of lorry drivers!

The pound has still not fully recovered since it's big fall the day after the 2016 referendum, UK stocks have fared worse than their European equivalents and The City has so far lost about 10% of its business.

Five years ago, the Brexit campaign slogans were Take Back Control, Brexit Means Brexit and Get Brexit Done.  If you speak to many businesses today, they will respond with words such as Bureaucracy, Delay, Cost. A survey in Scotland (where a majority voted Remain) of 670 businesses shows that 41% reported Brexit related issues (e.g. transport costs, border disruption, etc.) being their biggest challenge. It's inevitable that the extra paperwork, delays and cost increases will filter through to prices and affect us all.

I have seen various figures for the first six months of the year, all showing substantial drops in trade for the UK to the EU, with a smaller drop in the opposite direction. Anyone who really thinks we can grow our trade with the rest of the world to make up for this must be living in Lala land. Does anyone actually think the new trade deal with Australia will make a significant difference? A possible 5% drop in the price of Scotch Whisky is hardly likely to have the Aussies queuing to buy!

5% off in Australia!

Northern Ireland is still a big argument, leading to heated exchanges at the G7 in Cornwall a week or two ago. If they get this wrong - and there is no good for solution as to where to put the new EU-UK border around NI - it will lead to fighting again and loss of life.

The 2 leaders discuss sausage imports to Northern Ireland

The 5 million plus EU citizens living in the UK had until yesterday to apply for 'Settled Status'. Those that don't or who get rejected, risk being deported. Reports suggest there may be as many as 150,000 who have failed to apply for various reasons. One example is the East Timor community of around 5,000 people living in Oxford. They are the largest East Timorean community in the UK out of a total estimate of 20,000 people. They live in their own communities, often take low paid work and many are utter oblivious to Brexit. Are the authorities going to start to deport them? East Timor became independent from Indonesia in 2002 and had previously been a Portuguese colony. Many of the people have Portuguese passports so had been allowed to the UK as they fled the troubles in their land.

I think this is just the start to the Brexit related problems that we will be seeing unless the UK government wakes up and starts to take mitigating measures. Up until now they have been able to hide behind the pandemic, attributing anything bad its impact. Not for much longer. Brexit is the biggest deception and lie to the British public in our lifetimes. It may well lead to the break-up of the Union.

Roaming Charges are Back

I remember listing free use of our mobiles across Europe as one of the benefits when answering the question 'What did the EU ever do for us?". Well the citizens of the UK are about to be reminded of what it's like to be hit with mobile roaming fees the moment you step outside your home country. Enjoy.

British not free to travel

Today, the EU 27 plus Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland are launching their EU vaccine passport. This is a digital QR code on their mobile phones (with a paper version available) that will allow anyone who is fully vaccinated, has a recent negative PCR test or has recently recovered from COVID-19, to travel across the 31 countries. So the population of the EU and their partner countries are free to travel. People from the UK are not.

"China is its own special issue. At present, Western countries are without a strategic framework for engagement, torn between seeming to appease a much more aggressive and powerful Chinese State and turning China into the 21st equivalent of the Soviet Union. Europe is going to be under heavy pressure from the USA to be allies in what is virtually the only bi-partisan area of foreign policy – confrontation of China."

Quote from Tony Blair’s speech to Chatham House, 1pm Friday 15 January 2021

No comments:

Post a Comment