May’s visit to China is part of the Brexit strategy
January 30, 2018
Theresa May arrives in China soon with one goal, “make Brexit a success”. But what does China have to do with this? Well when the UK leaves the European Union, new trading partners will be needed to fill the gap that maybe (we say maybe as we have no idea what the future UK-EU relationship will be until negotiations finish) created in trade between the UK and EU.
Before the UK voted to leave the EU, former Prime Minister David Cameron already was on a charm offensive to attract the Chinese to the UK. Either through investment, tourists or friendly diplomatic relations, it’s all being part of the so called “Golden Era” of China-UK relations. David Cameron even recently joined a Chinese fund organisation charged with looking for projects to send funding to.
However since Cameron left office in 2016 the relationship hasn’t been as smooth with the new Prime Minister Theresa May. One of the first announcements that annoyed the Chinese was the review of the new nuclear plant in the UK that was previously agreed with David Cameron. The Chinese would offer the technology. However as May was the previous Home Secretary she was worried about security concerns. However after the “review” it was all cleared and the UK-China relation was saved. However there has not been the same push as the Cameron government. Partly as the British government has been more focused on Brexit than anything else internationally or domestically.
Theresa May has been slow to visit the Chinese, even being beaten by the new French President Emmanuel Macron. She has a lot of catching up to do.
With Trump saying he wants a UK-US trade deal before anyone else, the British Prime Minister wants the second biggest economy China on the same page, looking to Britain as a place to do business.
Exports to China from the UK have reported to have increased nearly 60% since 2012, this in itself shows the valuable relationship between the UK and China. The UK is looking East to new markets and China is the big one.
So expect to see big grand gestures when the British Prime Minster arrives in China either that be trade deals, government policy or the usual diplomatic speech. Just remember it’s not that long ago President Xi Jinping was in London at a state dinner with the Queen. A visit by the Queen would be the next big event between these two countries.
Expect the Belt and Road initiative to come up a lot. Something that Theresa May hasn’t endorsed yet compared to some of her European neighbours.