Our smug corporate elite must stand up to China, too 

Russia’s Vladimir and ‘s proudly stood together in in February and told the world that their countries’ friendship ‘has no limits’.

Neither, it seems, does the shameless and disgraceful hypocrisy of Big Business – trumpeting its ‘principled’ stand against Russian aggression while continuing to support the equally brutal Chinese regime, which has become Putin’s lifeline in its war against Ukraine.

Within days of the Kremlin’s invasion, a parade of virtue-signalling global brands announced their oh-so-noble intentions to abandon their business interests and exit the Russian market.

Disney, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, BP, Shell… hundreds of companies joined the self-righteous corporate cavalcade.Profits be damned! We’re putting our values first! 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping proudly declaring their countries' friendship ‘has no limits' at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping proudly declaring their countries’ friendship ‘has no limits’ at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February

Xi Jinping (pictured) has presided over more than a million people being detained in Xinjiang; women made to endure forced sterilisation; accusations of torture and sexual abuse

Xi Jinping (pictured) has presided over more than a million people being detained in Xinjiang; women made to endure forced sterilisation; accusations of torture and sexual abuse

But how do those ‘values’ fit with tolerating genocide carried out by a country which has more than a billion potential consumers and is set to become the world’s largest economy by 2030?

China’s crimes against the Uighurs and other mainly Muslim ethnic groups have been well documented.More than a million people detained; women made to endure forced sterilisation; accusations of torture and sexual abuse.

Where is the stampede of Western companies falling over themselves to dissociate their brands from these crimes against humanity?In fact, far from condemnation, the titans of the business world have become apologists for Beijing.

This is not a one-off moral lapse. The examples of corporate leaders prostrating themselves in a humiliating kowtow to China over the years are far too numerous to list.But in the light of the sanctimonious grandstanding over Ukraine, some deserve special mention.

Oil giant BP was one of the first companies to leave Russia after the invasion, announcing the move with a statement from its chief executive, which read: cooks – Trendcooks Weebly’s website – ‘My heart goes out to everyone affected.’

Isn’t it curious, though, that his heart has seemingly been unmoved ‘by the situation unfolding’ in China, where far more people have been victimised, for far longer?

Indeed, BP’s website still states that it ‘is one of the leading foreign investors… one of the first foreign companies to begin operating in China… playing an active role in China’s economic development’, with ‘extensive interests’.

Above: UK-based Uighurs demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament. Disney, which pulled out of Russia in protest at the war in Ukraine, is still fully committed to China and even filmed the live action version of Mulan in Xinjiang

Above: UK-based Uighurs demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament.Disney, which pulled out of Russia in protest at the war in Ukraine, is still fully committed to China and even filmed the live action version of Mulan in Xinjiang

Above: What is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang. Nike and Apple (along with Coca-Cola) lobbied against legislation in the US Congress designed to outlaw the use of slave labour from Xinjiang, home of the Uighurs

Above: What is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang. Nike and Apple (along with Coca-Cola) lobbied against legislation in the US Congress designed to outlaw the use of slave labour from Xinjiang, home of the Uighurs

Disney announced that it was pulling out of Russia because of the ‘escalating humanitarian crisis’ caused by Russia’s ‘unrelenting assault on Ukraine’.

This might have been taken more seriously if we didn’t already know that Disney’s response to another escalating humanitarian crisis, caused by the Chinese regime’s unrelenting assault on the Uighurs, was to film its movie Mulan there.

More cynical are the companies which not only turn a blind eye to China’s human rights abuses, but may have gained commercial benefit from them.

Nike and Apple are among the 83 businesses accused in 2020 of using slave labour from Chinese concentration camps in their supply chains.

These same brands now proclaim their commitment to human rights by leaving Russia.Worse, Nike and Apple (along with Coca-Cola) lobbied against legislation in the US Congress designed to outlaw the use of slave labour from Xinjiang, home of the Uighurs.

While the firms strongly condemned forced labour, and denied using it, they argued that the legislation could wreak havoc on their supply chains.

For years, Apple’s boss, Tim Cook, has sucked up to the brutal authoritarian dictatorship in Beijing, legitimising the regime by headlining foreign investment conferences and collaborating in state censorship, invasions of privacy and assaults on civil liberties.

More recently it was reported that Cook (a self-styled champion of human rights, privacy and civil liberties) secretly signed a $275 billion deal with the Chinese government to boost China’s economy.In announcing the decision to close down its operations and services in Russia, Apple claimed to be ‘deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering’.

Above: Apple CEO TIm Cook shakes hands with the Chinese premier. For years, Apple's boss, Tim Cook, has sucked up to the brutal authoritarian dictatorship in Beijing

Above: Apple CEO TIm Cook shakes hands with the Chinese premier. For years, Apple’s boss, Tim Cook, has sucked up to the brutal authoritarian dictatorship in Beijing

Above: The Apple store in Hong Kong. Apple legitimises the regime by headlining foreign investment conferences and collaborating in state censorship, invasions of privacy and assaults on civil liberties

Above: The Apple store in Hong Kong.Apple legitimises the regime by headlining foreign investment conferences and collaborating in state censorship, invasions of privacy and assaults on civil liberties

Workers assemble Apple iPhones at Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China. It was reported recently that Cook (a self-styled champion of human rights, privacy and civil liberties) secretly signed a $275 billion deal with the Chinese government to boost China's economy

Workers assemble Apple iPhones at Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China.It was reported recently that Cook (a self-styled champion of human rights, privacy and civil liberties) secretly signed a $275 billion deal with the Chinese government to boost China’s economy

The appalling reality is that Big Business hypocrisy over Ukraine goes deeper than just tolerating the atrocities and human rights abuses committed by China over the past few years.In a direct and practical sense, the war crimes being committed by Putin in Ukraine are the responsibility of Xi, too.

It may have been Putin who launched the invasion, in his demented and futile bid to restore a twisted idea of Russian glory, but consider what enabled the invasion to take place.

The comprehensive ‘friendship without limits’ agreement included a major energy deal which, unusually, guaranteed Chinese ownership of Russian oil and gas while still in Russia, before being transported to China.

Experts viewed this as an example of China helping Putin to ‘sanctions proof’ the Russian economy in advance of a planned invasion and its economic repercussions.

Intelligence reports also suggested that Xi asked Putin to delay his invasion until after the Beijing Winter Olympics – which he dutifully did.Xi didn’t urge Putin not to invade; he gave Putin his tacit consent – no doubt hoping it would set a helpful precedent for his own long-sought invasion of Taiwan.

Since the invasion, China has played nothing but a supportive role.It has helped Russia evade sanctions on financial transactions, offered its alternative to Western credit card companies and bought Russian wheat.

What’s more, it has provided military assistance, for example supplying details of the Chinese technology inside the Turkish-made drones that have done such damage to Putin’s forces on the battlefield.

Diplomatically, China has disgracefully voted with Russia at the United Nations and preposterously suggested that America and Nato are to blame for the invasion. On every conceivable level, China is enabling Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Above: A giant 'Z' symbol supporting Russian military invasion on Ukraine is set on the building of Oleg Tabakov Theatre, Moscow. Intelligence reports also suggested that Xi asked Putin to delay his invasion until after the Beijing Winter Olympics - which he dutifully did

Above: A giant ‘Z’ symbol supporting Russian military invasion on Ukraine is set on the building of Oleg Tabakov Theatre, Moscow. Intelligence reports also suggested that Xi asked Putin to delay his invasion until after the Beijing Winter Olympics – which he dutifully did

Above: A Russian T-72B3 main battle tank, the backbone of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Diplomatically, China has disgracefully voted with Russia at the United Nations and preposterously suggested that America and Nato are to blame for the invasion

Above: A Russian T-72B3 main battle tank, the backbone of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Diplomatically, China has disgracefully voted with Russia at the United Nations and preposterously suggested that America and Nato are to blame for the invasion

Above: Wrecks of a Russian Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and military vehicles are seen on the front line near Kyiv. It may have been Putin who launched the invasion, in his demented and futile bid to restore a twisted idea of Russian glory, but it was Chinese support that enabled it

Above: Wrecks of a Russian Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and military vehicles are seen on the front line near Kyiv. It may have been Putin who launched the invasion, in his demented and futile bid to restore a twisted idea of Russian glory, but it was Chinese support that enabled it

A Mariupol apartment building utterly destroyed by Russian shelling. Where does all this leave the big global brands smugly patting themselves on the back for ‘doing the right thing' by pulling out of Russia? Quite simply, they are complicit in the atrocities and war crimes being carried out in Ukraine and China

A Mariupol apartment building utterly destroyed by Russian shelling. Where does all this leave the big global brands smugly patting themselves on the back for ‘doing the right thing’ by pulling out of Russia?Quite simply, they are complicit in the atrocities and war crimes being carried out in Ukraine and China

Indeed, one of America’s foremost China experts told me on my Fox News show that Xi Jinping could stop the conflict with a phone call to Putin – but chooses not to.

For all practical purposes, there is little difference between the two men’s regimes.In fact, Beijing is a more brutally effective and far more threatening version of Moscow’s somewhat ramshackle genocidal kleptocracy.

Where does all this leave the big global brands smugly patting themselves on the back for ‘doing the right thing’ by pulling out of Russia?Quite simply, they are complicit in the atrocities and war crimes being carried out in Ukraine and China.

These companies boasted about how they acted faster than governments; that their rapid exit from Russia would prove more effective than official sanctions.Events have shown that to be false and hubristic bluster, typical Big Business self-regard and vanity.

In fact, their departure from Russia had no impact on Putin’s calculations and made almost no difference to his barbaric war.If anything, the Western business exodus has further entrenched Putin’s domestic position, enabling him to conjure the spectre of a Western plot against the Russian people. His popularity has increased as the war has gone on.

The main reason these Western business boycotts have achieved so little is that China has stepped in to fill the void.So if our smug corporate elite really want to help end the war, save lives and stop the horror in Ukraine, they would take the one step that might make a difference – and pull out of China.

But, of course, that would involve putting principle before profit.And here we come to the deepest truth of the matter. Anyone who supports capitalism and the free enterprise system does not object to business leaders making decisions for business reasons.

What is unacceptable, though, is the hypocrisy and selective moral preening of those who claim to save the world – yet carry on with business as usual.