A vulnerable Britain faces fearsome predators such as China and Russia
China’s senior diplomat in Britain, Liu Xiaoming, has a reputation for undiplomatic remarks. The ambassador’s infamous likening of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s government to Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter’s threatening nemesis, did little to ease historical bilateral tensions between the two countries. His blunt remarks last week about the delay to the Hinkley Point nuclear power station project ordered by Theresa May also jarred badly.
Liu put the government on notice that cancellation of the troubled £18bn scheme, in which the state-owned company, China General Nuclear Power (CGN), has (or would have) a 33% stake, could have serious, negative consequences for wider trade, investment and political relations between Britain and China. His warnings about damaged “mutual trust” and a “critical juncture” sounded less like the counsel of a friend, more like the threats of a bully.
The historic third bailout awarded to Athens after weeks of brinkmanship last year was supposed to have secured its future in the EU. But little has changed
In a side street in the heart of Athens, two siblings are hard at work. For the past year they have run their hairdressing business – an enterprise that was once located on a busy boulevard – out of a two-bedroom flat. The move was purely financial: last summer, as it became clear that Greeks would be hit by yet more austerity to foot the bill for saving their country from economic collapse, they realised their business would go bust if it continued operating legally.
“We did our sums and understood that staying put made no sense at all,” says one sibling. “If we didn’t [offer] receipts, if we avoided taxes and social security contributions, we could just about make ends meet.”