China's 'UK Is No Big Power' Snub To Cameron
Chinese state media has dismissed the UK as "just an old European country" that is only fit for studying and travel amid David Cameron's visit to the country to strengthen ties.
An editorial in China's Global Times, which reflects the thinking and opinions of the country's leadership, questioned Mr Cameron's sincerity.
"Beijing needs to speed up the pace of turning its strength into diplomatic resources and make London pay the price for when it intrudes into the interests of China," it said.
In a highly contemptuous passage, it pointed out that the "UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese".
The tone is sharply at odds with the comments made publicly by China's leaders during Mr Cameron's visit.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang described the UK-China partnership as "indispensable" in comments echoed by Mr Cameron.
During his visit, Mr Cameron told businesses in Shanghai: "My government is committed to working with the Chinese government in a way of mutual respect and understanding to deepen these relations and remove barriers to trade and investment and partnership between our two countries."
It came as the Prime Minister announced that deals worth £5.6bn had been signed during his trip and that 1,500 jobs would be created as a direct result.
The Chinese Prime Minister also indicated that China was ready to help Britain build its high-speed rail line, a project currently being funded wholly by the Government.
Mr Li said: "The two sides have agreed to push for breakthroughs and progress in the co-operation between our enterprises on nuclear power and high-speed rail.
"The Chinese side is willing to not only participate in but also purchase equities and stocks in UK power projects."
Mr Cameron's visit has been dogged by his refusal to raise the issue of China's human rights record, particularly on the subject of Tibet.
The Prime Minister angered Beijing when he met with the Dalai Lama last year, a subject referred to in less than glowing terms in the Global Times editorial.
The piece also questioned how Mr Cameron can be in China talking about improved ties between the two countries when his Navy Chief of Staff was in Japan supporting the country over a territorial dispute with the Chinese.
"Perhaps there is no need to talk about 'sincerity' in terms of Sino-British relations," it said.
"What Cameron does is out of his own political interest and the UK's national interest.
"His visit this time can hardly be the end of the conflict between China and the UK.
"Beijing needs to speed up the pace of turning its strength into diplomatic resources and make London pay the price for when it intrudes into the interests of China."
It added: "The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese.
"It is just an old European country apt for travel and study. This has gradually become the habitual thought of the Chinese people."
The editorial signs off with the stinging comment: "Finally, let us show courtesy to Cameron and wish him a pleasant trip."
Sky's Asia Correspondent Mark Stone, who is covering the Prime Minister's trip, said: "Today's editorial in China's Global Times gives a clear hint about how Mr Cameron has been received in China so far."