UK Conservatives seek closer economic ties with China
27 December 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government is establishing a $1 billion investment fund with China to back China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Her predecessor, David Cameron, will become vice-chairman of the fund, which is being set up by Cameron’s friend and Tory Peer, Lord Chadlington, on whose behalf Cameron lobbied Beijing. Douglas Flint, the former group chairman of HSBC bank, will become Britain’s envoy to the project.
The BRI, also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), is a massive infrastructure investment project for high-speed rail, roads, Internet links and port facilities aimed at more closely integrating the Eurasian land mass.
As well as boosting economic growth, Beijing regards the project as a means of establishing closer ties with Europe and thus bypassing the US, which has opposed European participation as part of its broader effort to isolate China diplomatically, economically and militarily.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the fund along with a raft of new investment agreements finalised during his two-day visit to Beijing, as part of Britain’s efforts to boost its global trade and investment links before leaving the European Union in 2019. There will be export credit guarantees to support up to £25 billion in investments in BRI projects. There will also be a $50 million matching contribution with China to the $100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to expand operations into less developed countries. The AIIB was set up in 2015 as China’s equivalent to the World Bank. Britain was the first Western country to pledge its participation.
Other measures include a direct channel for trading China’s renminbi on London’s…