China Power

China=Less Burglaries?

Should Britain’s main opposition be thanking China rather than scaremongering about it?

China made an unexpected entry into British general election campaigning last week, with main opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron using the spectre of uncertainty over China as justification for Britain maintaining its nuclear deterrent during a televised debate. The suggestion has since (rightly) been slapped down by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said the comments were ‘appallingly immature.’

Obviously the ruling Labour Party, which fell to third place in one recent poll, is bound to pounce on anything that suggests the youthful Cameron isn’t ready for the top job. But in this case the criticism is justified. Cameron is justified in pointing out there’s uncertainty over China’s rise. But tying in the issue of nuclear weapons is no way to shed light for the average viewer on the potential challenges China poses.

That said, Cameron might actually risk the ire of British voters if they realize that they apparently have China to thank, at least in part, for falling burglary rates. According to Access Asia’s weekly update, a researcher at Leicester University reckons he may have worked out why incidences of burglary in the UK have fallen by well over half since 1995.

James Treadwell, a criminologist at the university, has been talking to criminals and discovered that a prime reason why they’re turning away from burglary is that electronics have become so cheap (courtesy of China) that their resale value just doesn’t warrant the effort of stealing them in the first place.

The newsletter also points to evidence that Chinese shoppers have been giving London’s economy a bit of a boost:

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‘The New West End Company – the body that promotes Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street – reports that the number of Chinese shoppers in the West End is up by 118% year on year.’

I doubt, though, that Labour’s defence of relations with China will extend to giving it credit for falling crime.