Poll: British people want closer economic ties with China

James Nickerson
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Xi Jinping is on a four day visit to the UK (Source: Getty)

As Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping hail a "golden era" of Sino-British relations, there are some voices asserting the UK must do more to tackle China's human rights record.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for one, is planning to use a state dinner at Buckingham Palace to raise the issue with Jinping.

But last week China's ambassador to the UK warned Jinping would feel "offended" if he was lectured on human rights during his visit, adding that Britain is becoming a leader in terms of the western country with the best relationship with China.

Read more: Jinping Kerching: David Cameron rolls out red carpet

And it seems British people feel the same. A new poll has found that British people overwhelmingly want closer economic ties with China.

At the moment, 40 per cent of British people say our most valuable trading partner is Europe, while China comes in with just 23 per cent. However, this is expected to reverse in the next two decades, with 29 per cent predicting China will become our top partner compared to 22 per cent who predict it will still be Europe.

The polling also found 43 per cent of British people to "say we should be seeking closer trading ties with China, while 31 per cent say we should continue with our current level of economic cooperation and only 8 per cent say we should weaken our ties".

The Treasury has officially outlined ambitions to make China the UK’s second-biggest trade partner within the next ten years. Today, the country is our sixth biggest trading partner, with British exports totaling £25bn.

Read more: Xi Jinping - Britain has made "visionary" progress to strengthen ties with China

That's not to say British people have an out-and-out love for China, as the poll suggested the British public "seems to have a pragmatic approach to economic relations with China, but there is not much evidence of great affection for the country. Of the 12 biggest economies by GDP excluding the USA and those in Europe, China comes in at 8th in terms of net positive impressions (29 per cent positive against 55 per cent negative)."

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