U.K. Welcomes China Investment in ‘Key Areas,’ Trade Minister Says
The U.K.’s investment minister said the country welcomes Chinese investment and expertise, especially in the renewable energy and infrastructure sectors, following high-level meetings between officials of the two countries that have resulted in improved ties.
Dominic Johnson, U.K.’s Minister of State in the Department for Business and Trade, said the recent “reset” of Sino-U.K. relations allows them to show their aspirations to cooperate to the Chinese government and businesses, during a sit-down interview with Caixin.
Johnson made the remarks as he led a business delegation to the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), of which the U.K. was the guest country of honor. His trip also came on the heels of U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s visit to China in late August.
“Britain is open for business, and we welcome Chinese investments in a whole range of key areas,” Johnson said, mentioning China Huaneng Group Co. Ltd. — one of the largest state-owned electricity generation firms in China — as an example of “just the sort of company we want to attract to the U.K.”
“In fact, if we don’t, neither country is going to reach its end goal in terms of providing clean energy for its citizens,” Johnson warned during the interview.
Huaneng Group’s Chairman Wen Shugang expressed willingness for “further cooperation including wind power and CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage)” with the U.K. during a meeting with Johnson on Sept. 1, according to a statement from the company’s website.
Another area the U.K. is eyeing to further collaboration is infrastructure, Johnson said, noting existing Chinese investments in U.K.’s airports, including Heathrow and London City Airport, as well as British water companies and railway construction.
“We want to encourage that because Britain needs investment — I’m not ashamed to say so,” Johnson said, as the U.K. tries to lure more investors from its fourth largest trading partner, according to data from the U.K. Department for Business and Trade.
However, after the U.K. implemented an investment screening act in 2022, a U.K. government report released in July showed that 42% of the transactions called for in-depth reviews involved investments from China, the highest of all countries, based on data collected from April 2022 to March 2023.
In response to concerns about the high proportion of Chinese investment targeted in the scheme, Johnson said the regulation was issued to ensure protection of the “industries that need to be protected,” adding that the government will ensure such protection is done “rationally and with a high degree of transparency.”
In addition, Johnson promoted U.K. as a potential partner in helping China to solve challenges posed by its aging population, with advanced services in palliative care and life sciences. China’s population of 60 and above is estimated to reach 400 million — representing over 30% of the country’s total — around 2035, according to the National Health Commission.
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