Boris Johnson beats Osborne to charm China

GEORGE Osborne and Boris Johnson yesterday conducted a joint question and answer session with Chinese students as the two politicians attempted to woo the country on competing trade missions.

Osborne is today expected to offer a loosening of regulatory barriers for Chinese banks wanting to expand in London. Yesterday he said: “A great nation like China should have a global currency.”

He added that China should develop the renminbi “through the international centre of finance: London”.

On Monday Osborne announced plans to make it easier for Chinese businessmen to apply for British visas, while extending fast-track application procedures to cities outside the main Shanghai and Beijing conurbations.

He also said that there would be “no limit” on the number of Chinese students who are allowed to come and study at Britain’s universities, while confirming a partnership between Peking and Manchester University to work on genome medicine.

Professor Qing Wang of Warwick Business School welcomed the visa reforms, saying high-spending Chinese tourists are put off Britain by tough immigration rules and the hanges would go some way to correcting this.

But while the chancellor held forth on the benefits of investing and studying in the UK, the Mayor of London charmed an audience at Peking University with a lengthy metaphor involving repeated references to the Harry Potter novels.

“Who is the first person he kisses?” the Mayor asked.

“That’s right, Cho Chang, who is a Chinese overseas student at Hogwarts school.”