London - Britain has assuaged its hunger for economic ties with China after Finance Minister George Osborne came away from a trip to the Asian powerhouse with a range of investment deals.
From easing visa restrictions to building on recent currency co-operation and winning Beijing money for investment in British nuclear power plants, Osborne can claim to have smoothed relations with the emerging economic power.
He in part managed to win over a Chinese government that had rebuffed Britain after Prime Minister David Cameron met the Dalai Lama – the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet – last year.
Osborne’s trip coincided with one made to China by London mayor Boris Johnson – with the pair seen as potential rivals for the leadership of the Conservative Party should Cameron come unstuck before or after the next general election in 2015.
In a speech at Peking University, Osborne insisted “there is no country in the West more open to investment – especially from China” than Britain. He said: “I don’t want Britain to resent China’s success, I want us to celebrate it. I don’t want us to try to resist your economic progress, I want Britain to share in it.”
Osborne said on Thursday that he would allow Chinese firms to take majority stakes in British nuclear power projects.
The British government said the initial Chinese stakes in nuclear power stations were likely to be minority shares, but added: “Over time stakes in subsequent new power stations could be majority stakes.”
Also last week, Beijing Construction Engineering Group signed a deal with British firms to develop a business district around Manchester airport. – Sapa-AFP