UK Politics

George Osborne to push for 'new era in UK-China relations'

George Osborne Image copyright EPA

UK Chancellor George Osborne is to embark on a week-long visit to China to boost commercial and political ties with the country.

Mr Osborne, who will be accompanied by business leaders and ministers, wants to "foster a new era in UK-China relations", the Treasury said.

His visit, beginning on Sunday, takes him to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.

China is the world's second largest economy, but there is growing evidence that it is losing steam.

Speaking ahead of the seven-day trip, the chancellor said the delegation was about "exploring new opportunities to open up new markets".

It comes ahead of a state visit to the UK by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October - the first by a Chinese leader for 10 years.

'New opportunities'

Mr Osborne met China's Vice Premier Liu Yandong in Downing Street on Friday, in preparation for the trip.

The senior Chinese minister also had talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, on promoting closer ties between the UK and China.

Mr Osborne said: "I want us forge closer economic and cultural links with China

"Our partnership for growth, reform and innovation is helping to deliver record levels of investment and trade in both directions, but there is much more we can do.

"This trip is all about exploring new opportunities to open up new markets to benefit both economies."

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The Chinese president's visit to the UK will also include a stay at Buckingham Palace as the guest of the Queen

The centrepiece of Mr Osborne's visit will be the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue in Beijing.

Accompanying him will be Treasury minister Lord O'Neill, Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Energy Secretary Amber Rudd.

Mr Osborne is also going to promote his plans for a "Northern Powerhouse" in England, taking with him a delegation of senior business and local government figures, including Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese.

UK-China relations

The trip denotes a further warming in UK-Chinese relations after a dispute over Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to meet the Dalai Lama in 2012.

Both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne visited China last year, when the PM urged the country to invest in UK infrastructure, including nuclear power stations and high-speed rail.

And earlier this year UK became a member of the Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

China recently revised down its 2014 growth figures from 7.4% to 7.3% - its weakest showing in nearly 25 years.

For this year, the government is targeting annual economic growth of about 7%.

Growing evidence that the world's economic powerhouse is slowing down has caused major investment market falls.

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