LONDON, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Britain's National Grid has reportedly cut ties with a Chinese supplier over so-called security concerns. In yet another unfounded allegation, the British side created an enemy that does not exist.
So-called security concerns were hyped up once again, with no solid evidence given. Instead, according to The Financial Times, an employee at NR Electric UK, a subsidiary of the Chinese firm Nari Technology, said that engineers had run tests and had not seen any potential risk.
What makes no sense is even NR Electric UK was kept in the dark. The employee said, "National Grid did not disclose a reason for terminating the contracts," The Financial Times reported. Businesses thrive on honesty and trust, or communication at the very least. This unilateral move is confusing, a let-down and undoubtedly a blow to Britain's reputation.
The move is unfortunate in many ways. According to The Financial Times, the components provided by NR Electric UK, which play a vital role in controlling and balancing Britain's electricity grid to mitigate the risk of blackouts, are now under suspicion by National Grid. What could have been a workable solution and mutually beneficial cooperation is now demonized and dropped so easily, at a cost to Britain's energy security and the public's needs.
It is reasonable to assume that National Grid had done all necessary research and tests before integrating NR Electric UK components into Britain's electricity grid since it repeatedly emphasized the importance of security. What changed the company's mind overnight? Note this: National Grid's decision came after it sought advice from some government body, The Financial Times reported. Decisive or not, the government's role was highlighted in the media coverage.
This is not the first, second, or third time the British government has become paranoid about China-related products, interfering with the country's purely business affairs. A notable example is the 2020 ban on Huawei equipment from Britain's 5G network, a move influenced by pressure from the United States.
"It is not just about one company and one industrial sector. It is about the UK politicizing commercial and technological issues at all costs. It is about the Chinese investment in the UK facing greater threats. It is about whether we can still feel confident about the openness, fairness and non-discrimination of the British market," a spokesperson from China's Foreign Ministry said then. These words still apply today.
The Western political narrative around China-related issues has long been groundless and misleading. It forces bizarre decisions upon markets and is blind to public sentiment. At stake is the government's international reputation and, ironically, the good of their voters.
There is no need to go back far to find such a case. The ban on Huawei is already having consequences. This September, The Financial Times reported that the government's drive to rip out Huawei kits from Britain's telecoms network has led to mobile outages for Sky customers, calling it "the first sign of disruption long warned about by industry executives." It has become a failed fight against some danger that was never proven accurate.
This year, business activities between China and Britain are recovering fast from the pandemic-related disruption. Chinese delegations have visited London, and many British business leaders are now based in Beijing. A closer partnership benefits all, they have told Xinhua.
China-Britain bilateral trade in goods exceeded 100 billion U.S. dollars for two consecutive years. Statistics show that win-win cooperation is the trend of the times, regardless of the current noise.
For both businesses and governments, reputation and trust are hard-won but easy to lose. They are built upon reliability and certainty, not individual preferences and fickle decisions.
The British economy has long suffered a double whammy of high inflation and stagnating growth. Shutting the doors of opportunity and having a constant fear of reaching out in friendship will not improve the situation. ■