Saturday, 29 January 2011

David Cameron at Davos: Invest in China at your peril

The Daily Mail today highlights a warning issued by UK PM David Cameron against "authoritarian capitalism" (excerpts follow):

David Cameron last night launched an extraordinary attack on the ‘authoritarian capitalism’ of China and Russia as he warned businesses to invest there at their peril. ....

Mr Cameron poured scorn on those who see ‘political leaders with the powers of juggernauts’ forcing through decisions elsewhere in the world and believe that the democratic values of the West are ‘outdated, ineffective – even an obstacle to success’.

‘I passionately disagree. It’s these values that create the climate for innovation. Look at where the big ideas come from – the Facebooks and the Spotifys – and the vast majority are from open societies,’ the PM told businessmen, economists and world leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

‘That’s because good ideas come through freedom – free thinking and the free association of like-minded people. Our values create the right climate for business, too. If you’re looking to set up a headquarters abroad, are you going to invest where your premises can be taken away from you? Where contracts are routinely dishonoured? Where there’s the threat of political upheaval? Or are you going to invest where there are property rights, the rule of law, democratic accountability? These values aren’t some quaint constitutional add-on, they are an integral and irreducible part of our success today and tomorrow.’

Though he did not refer to China and Russia directly, observers were left in little doubt which countries he was referring to in his attack on ‘authoritarian capitalism’.

Mr Cameron’s remarks risk a row with China, which he has gone out of his way to court as an economic partner since winning power. Only last November, he led Britain’s largest-ever delegation to China with 50 top business leaders joining ministers on a trade mission.

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