G20 Summit: Theresa May hints at lack of trust in Chinese government

The Prime Minister is to speak at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou today

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 05 September 2016 09:16
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What happened on the first day of the G20 summit

Theresa May has left a question mark hanging over whether she fully trusts the Chinese government after failing to directly answer a question on the matter.

The Prime Minister was quizzed on how she views Beijing by reporters on the plane taking her to the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, where she will meet China's president.

Earlier she had said she wanted a "golden era" in relations with the country, a phrase coined by George Osborne, despite security concerns over Chinese involvement in the Hinkley nuclear power project.

But asked directly if she trusts Beijing she said only: "Of course we have a relationship with them, we're working with them.

"We have seen significant Chinese investment into the United Kingdom."

It could make an already difficult bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping more awkward, as she will likely be asked to explain delaying the £18 billion scheme at Hinkley, for which the Chinese are providing a third of the money.

The Independent has already reported how officials are said to be looking for potential ways to back out of the deal which Mrs May paused on taking office.

She said on the plane: "This is the way I operate. I don't just come in and say I'm going to take a decision.

"I actually look at the evidence, weigh up that evidence, take the advice and consider that and come to my decision.

"That is exactly the process I'm going through. I've said a decision will be taken in September and it will."

One of Mrs May's most senior advisors has suggested the Chinese could use their involvement in Hinkley to control the UK's power supply.

The pursuit of "golden era" relations with China by Mr Osborne was criticised by some at home and abroad who said it risked alienating other nations.

Mrs May also signalled that she wanted to broaden the UK's trading horizons from the Osborne era.

She said: "What's happened over the last few years is that the Government has built a new strategic partnership with China, a golden era of relationships between the UK and China.

"We want to continue to build on that. Obviously I'll be meeting President Xi and talking to him.

"I'll be meeting other world leaders as well and wanting to talk to them about the opportunities that we can develop between the UK and other countries."

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