Mao Tse-tung, writing about classes in Chinese society in the 1920s, defined “the comprador class” as “wholly appendages of the international bourgeoisie, depending upon imperialism for their survival and growth”. And the Chinese know a comprador when they see one.
So David Cameron strutting around China talking as the apostle of free trade, using the language of British capitalism from the 19th-century Manchester school of economics, must have struck his hosts as even more of a buffoon than they had thought.
“Comprador” is a useful word. It originated in China, of Portuguese origin, to denote the native manager of a European business house – and by extension a class of people owing their allegiance to foreign capital. And few are more comprador than Cameron. (It comes from a Latin word meaning “procure”, making Cameron also a procurer, a pimp, for foreign interests. How apt.)
British imperialism no longer dictates to China. Instead, the representatives of British capitalism act as the foreign managers and company representatives of Chinese capitalism in Britain. How far has the wheel turned!
Perhaps someone should have reminded Cameron that the largest investors in Canary Wharf, home of born-again capitalism post-Thatcher, are Chinese companies.
Chinese capitalists are expanding at unprecedented speed into London’s real estate. Chinese entrepreneurs own black cab maker the London Taxi Company. Chinese companies dominate Britain’s infrastructure in the railways, oil and energy production (the largest investor in Grangemouth), and so on. They own the intellectual rights and remnants of British Leyland. They are huge investors in information technology in Britain. They have built a brick for brick replica of Nottingham University in China to make the point about their commitment to engineering, science and manufacturing development; the Chancellor of Nottingham University is a Chinese professor.
The Chinese recently bought Sunseeker, the world’s leading luxury yacht builder in Dorset, lock, stock and barrel. Originally they wanted 30 yachts but then decided they’d take the whole yard. Their intention is to expand production from 180 yachts a year to 370 yachts, all aimed at the Chinese market. Who is trading with whom? When Cameron struts, he looks more like a plantation manager showing off for his absentee landlords.
National independence, sovereignty and control means regaining the assets which constitute the British nation from whoever claims ownership. Be they United States, Arab, Chinese, European Union or the British traitor class. ■