Theresa May launches new drive for Beijing's billions as Chinese leaders arrive in London

Relations were shaken by Ms May's decision to review the Chinese-backed Hinkley nuclear scheme

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 10 November 2016 01:06 GMT
Prime Minister Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May will today launch a fresh bid to cosy up to China and attract billions of pounds worth of investment into UK infrastructure.

The Prime Minister will also pledge British money for a Chinese-led Asian investment bank that the United States has doggedly opposed.

A Chinese delegation headed by vice premier Ma Kai will arrive in London for talks which Downing Street hopes will reassure the country’s leadership, following a rocky start to relations at the start of Ms May’s tenure at Number 10.

The vice premiere will also have a key meeting with Chancellor Philip Hammond, who will seek to underline that Britain remains "open for business" following the Brexit vote.

In a statement ahead of the talks, Ms May said: "I'm determined that as we leave the European Union, we build a truly global Britain that is open for business.

"As we take the next step in this golden era of relations between the UK and China, I am excited about the opportunities for expanding trade and investment between our two countries."

Mr Hammond also used the phrase "golden era" as he said China and the UK remained natural partners, adding: "The mutual benefits are clear.

"China is the world's second largest economy. UK exports to China have grown rapidly and Britain is home to more Chinese investment than any other European country."

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Ministers will showcase 13 large-scale property and development schemes in northern England, each worth more than £100 million, in a bid to attract investors.

The Government will also announce that the Chinese contractor CITIC Construction is to invest £200 million in the first phase of the £1.7 billion London Royal Albert Docks project, headed by the Chinese developer ABP.

The UK will in turn invest up to £40 million in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank based in Beijing, to help developing countries prepare infrastructure programmes.

British support for the bank has irked Washington, which sees it as an attempt by Beijing to challenge the existing international global order based on the World Bank and IMF.

One of Ms May’s first acts on becoming Prime Minister last July was to order a review of the project to build the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant - part-financed by the Chinese.

But having finally given the green light to the plant last September, Downing Street will use the eighth UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue to focus relations on future investment projects.

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