The UK Foreign Office minister Mark Field flew to Beijing last week to step up Britain’s efforts to conclude a post-Brexit trade deal with China.
The trip comes at the same time a report showing Chinese investment in London’s commercial property market had more than tripled since last year’s referendum on EU membership.
Mr Field will have meetings with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, vice-foreign minister Wang Chao and assistant foreign minister Kong Xuanyou.
“China is a key global player and an essential partner for the UK in many areas, not least trade and investment and foreign policy,” Mr Field said.
“This has been particularly clear in recent weeks as we worked closely with China and other United Nations partners to respond to the threat North Korea poses to regional stability and security.
“We exported £16.7 billion worth of goods to China in 2016 and that figure will continue to grow as we strengthen links between our countries.
“I look forward to discussions on these issues in Beijing, and harnessing the UK-China Global Partnership to tackle issues of global concern such as the illegal wildlife trade.”
Chinese investors spent $5.1 billion in the London commercial market during the first six months of the year, the highest figure on record and well ahead of the $3.5 billion spent in all of 2016.
China’s ambassador in London publicly rebuffed British media claims that Chinese investment in the UK posed a threat to the country’s national security.
Mr Liu described the claims as “both groundless and harmful” and said Chinese investment in the UK was mutually beneficial.
The ambassador said that $23.2 billion of Chinese non-financial investment in the UK had already gone to a wide range of sectors, creating new jobs, generating green, low carbon growth and bringing economic prosperity and stability.
“The Hinkley Point project partly financed by the Chinese company, for example, is expected to create 26,000 jobs and, upon completion, reduce nine million tons of carbon emission every year,” Mr Liu wrote, adding that Britain’s commitment to remaining open to overseas trade and investment was key to boosting the confidence of foreign investors.
“As the Brexit negotiations continue and the ensuing uncertainties and negative impacts unfold, for Britain and for foreign investors, confidence is more valuable than gold,” he added.
“Britain should make the right decision and maintain its confidence, rather than being swayed by protectionism or looking at Chinese investment through Cold War-tinted spectacles.”
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