British PM Theresa May heads to China with business delegation

World Today

British Prime Minister Theresa May is on her way to China. She’s leading a business delegation as part of her bid to promote a ‘global Britain’ after its departure from the European Union. She’s also trying to develop what has been a mutually proclaimed ‘Golden Era’ in Sino-British trade ties.

CGTN’s Richard Bestic reports.

China is one of the U.K.’s largest trading partners—last year selling goods and services worth nearly $25 billion and Britain importing goods worth more twice that.

As Brexit looms over Britain, May’s Chinese tour will aim to build on its strengths, according to global financial services giant, UBS.

“It is an open door, but it needs to be a relationship based on mutual respect,” said Geoffrey Yu, the U.K. Investment Director at UBS. “And I think mutual respect is there- Beijing is well aware of the difficulties and challenges Britain is facing.”

Pursuing new trade deals with Beijing on her first official visit to China, May could be pushing at an open door. Chinese investments in Britain last year more than doubled to over $20 billion, according to a report from law firm Baker McKenzie.

One of China’s biggest single global investments is Hinckley Point, in the U.K.’s West Country-the first new nuclear power station to be built in Britain in a generation.

During round-table talks, China will likely turn an eye to the City of London, the U.K.’s premier financial center, with possible talk of new cross- border investment channels-a Stock Connect to Shanghai, involving the U.K.

And then there’s China’s Belt and Road initiative, a trillion-dollar new Silk Road, involving infrastructure projects in scores of countries.

“We believe the visit by Prime Minister May will help promote the continued development of the ‘Golden Era’ of China-Britain relations,” said Hua Chunying from China’s Foreign Ministry. “[The visit] will also help the cooperation between China and Europe and the West as a whole to ascend to a new level.”

A Golden Era in relations between the U.K. and China was a phrase first coined by President Xi Jinping on a state visit to Britain in 2015.