Making the case for British business in China


"These developments have been rightly criticised within Hong Kong and outside".

Britain has said it will leave the EU's single market and customs union so that it can strike its own trade deals with countries outside the bloc, making China's huge market an attractive target. "The depth of our relationship means we can have frank discussions on all issues".

Facing several questions about her leadership at the start of a three day trip to China to meet President Xi Jinping, the PM acknowledged "yes, we need to ensure that we do speak about the achievements that we've seen", pointing to changes to stamp duty, historically low levels of unemployment and falls in public borrowing.

While recognising that the Belt and Road could potentially offer "huge" opportunities to businesses from outside China, she added: "What I would like to see is ensuring that we have transparency and worldwide standards being adhered to and I will be discussing that with my Chinese interlocutors".

China also has high expectations that London will endorse its Belt and Road initiative, a massive infrastructure project aimed at reviving ancient Silk Road trade routes and creating greater market access for Chinese companies.

Beijing is keen to see a full-throated endorsement by the United Kingdom of President Xi Jinping's $900bn "Belt and Road" global infrastructure project, which the US, France and other European powers have expressed strong reservations about, given its political objective to tie other countries in the region closer into China's influence.

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"One of the things the prime minister will be focusing on this visit is looking at the scope to work with China, as China opens up its markets, to move towards a more ambitious trading relationship with China", Woodward told reporters. "What I would like to see is to ensure there is transparency and global standards being adhered to and that's something I'll be discussing with my Chinese interlocutors", she said.

"We believe that the future of Hong Kong - that "one country, two systems" future - is important", May said.

Britain's last governor in Hong Kong before it was handed back to the Chinese, Chris Patten, had written to May on Monday urging her to raise concerns over the "increasing threats to the basic freedoms, human rights and autonomy" in the territory. I've raised this in the past with President Xi, and he's shown commitment to that. May's meetings will show whether the United Kingdom has achieved its previously stated goal of becoming China's closest partner among Western countries, the ministry said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday defied critics calling for her to resign, saying she was not a quitter and that she has a long-term job to do: delivering Brexit and domestic reform.

But difficulties with Brexit negotiations and renewed speculation over her leadership threatened to overshadow the trip, which Ms May wants to use to bang the drum for investment in the UK. The committee that holds the letters does not comment on the actual number.

During a similar trade-focused visit to Japan, previous year May first used the "I'm not a quitter" phrase, vowing to fight the next British election as leader in 2022. "There is always more for us to be able to do to talk to people about what we're achieving". What we're doing now is doing the job that the British people asked the Government to do which is to deliver on Brexit.