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The Spectator Podcast: China’s new diplomacy

2 August 2018

3:34 PM

2 August 2018

3:34 PM


This week, China agreed to consider a trade deal with Britain post-Brexit, but does a closer relationship with China expose Britain to its expansionist ambitions? We also talk to two experts on what exactly a no-deal Britain would look like; and last, why are Britain’s great Catholic schools facing extinction?

From cheap clothes to easy investments, it’s no secret that China’s rise has helped the whole world become richer. But at what cost? That’s the question that Asia expert Michael Auslin asks in this week’s cover, as Jeremy Hunt leads Britain into closer ties with China. Michael argues that Chinese trade paves the way for Beijing to strong-arm countries into China’s sphere of influence, supported by its rapidly growing military. Michael joins the podcast together with Kerry Brown, former British diplomat and Professor of China Studies at King’s College London. Michael explains China’s integrated approach to ‘imperialism in reverse’:

‘It uses a variety of different types of levels of influence, pressure, in some cases intimidation, to get countries – once they are deeply linked in with China, or even indebted to China – to essentially follow the preferences of Chinese policymakers on foreign policy issues.’

The M20 closed, civil unrest within days, and living off of tinned tuna. Is this what would happen if the UK leaves the EU with no deal in March 2019? David Collins, Professor of International Law at City University, says all this one-upmanship is starting to sound a bit like Monty Python’s Yorkshiremen. In this week’s magazine, he argues why this so-called ‘WTO option’ wouldn’t be a disaster at all. David joins the podcast with Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform. One reason why the WTO option wouldn’t be Armageddon, David explains, is because WTO rules themselves allow for a de facto transition period from the EU:


‘The WTO waiver, you’ve got emergency exceptions based on things like national security, if it did come to a health crisis about medicines and so on. So the World Trade Organisation option, in itself, could be depicted as somewhat of a transition depending on how you played around with it.’

England has a great history of schools run by Benedictine Monks. But could that history be coming to an end? Will Heaven writes in this week’s magazine that two of the most prestigious schools in the country, Ampleforth and Downside, are facing closure. Why are these schools struggling, and what can be done to rescue them? Will is former speechwriter for Michael Gove, former Managing Editor of the Spectator, and an alumnus of Downside. He joins the podcast with Damian Thompson, presenter of our Holy Smoke podcast and Associate Editor of the Spectator. Will tells us about the sex abuse scandals that are some of the challenges the schools face today:

‘I didn’t know anyone who had a bad experience there myself, but what I do know is monks who taught me, who were my chaplains, my headmasters, abbots, who, as the hearings at the Inquiry revealed at the end of last year, had been involved, not necessarily in the abuse themselves, but in the cover-up.’

To hear more from Damian on the trials and tribulations of religion in the modern age, check out his podcast, Holy Smoke.

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