Theresa May woos Chinese vice-premier in London, pushing major investment projects

 
Natasha Clark
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May wants to push Chinese investment in Northern projects (Source: Getty)

Theresa May vowed to begin a "golden era" of relations with China as she welcomed overseas investors to the UK today.

The talks are the latest in a series of annual summits between the UK and China, started by the former chancellor George Osborne. China invested over £3.8bn in the UK in 2014.

Chinese contractor CITIC Construction is set to invest £320m in the first part of a £1.7bn London Royal Albert Docks project headed up by the developer ABP. The UK is in turn expected to invest £40m in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing.

Read more: Government seeking Chinese trade deal

The government said it will also showcase 13 projects totaling £5bn to investors as the Chinese vice-premier Ma Kai visits the UK today. It will focus on Northern Powerhouse projects including:

Ma will visit the Prime Minister alongside the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to discuss business opportunities and further investment, and Bank of England governor Mark Carney. International trade secretary Liam Fox and Northern Powerhouse minister Andrew Percy will support the investment push as part of the eighth UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue.

A private sector UK Infrastructure Academy is also being launched "to help train Chinese companies and officials on investment processes in the UK."

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

I’m determined that as we leave the European Union, we build a truly global Britain that is open for business. That is the message I took to India this week, and that’s the message I will be giving Vice Premier Ma Kai on his visit to the UK.

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.

Hammond said: "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."

He described the UK's relationship with China as "more important than ever".

Ma said: "China wishes to see a UK and Europe that encourage stability and high prosperity. China will be happy to see the UK and Europe reach a win-win relationship through negotiation."

The trip follows a recent hiccup over whether the Chinese-funded nuclear power station Hinkley Point C would go ahead. May delayed the approval when she became Prime Minister, but eventually waved the deal through – with some security safeguards.

Former business secretary Vince Cable said after May halted approval on the Hinkley nuclear reactors that she has “a general prejudice” against Chinese investment.

And former Goldman Sachs banker Lord Jim O'Neill quit the government last month after criticising May's approach to China

After the victory of Donald Trump in the US election, Chinese traders are worried about his plans to slap tariffs of up to 45 per cent on Chinese goods.

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