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Alok Sharma makes 1st visit to China as UK minister

British minister in the Foreign Office Alok Sharma is in China this week for a three-day visit to hold talks with the top leadership of the world\'s second largest economy on trade and investment in the post-Brexit world.

Published: 16th August 2016 05:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2016 05:35 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

LONDON: British minister in the Foreign Office Alok Sharma is in China this week for a three-day visit to hold talks with the top leadership of the world's second largest economy on trade and investment in the post-Brexit world.

Sharma, who chose India as his first official overseas visit last month soon after taking charge as Minister for Asia under the Theresa May-led government, is also believed to be carrying a letter from the British Prime Minister for the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

"The UK's relationship with China is strong, growing and delivering benefits for both our countries. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, we are working together to tackle global issues of the 21st century," Sharma said as he began his visit yesterday.

"Britain is open for business and an attractive destination for international investors, including from China.

Our trade is at record levels. UK exports to China have grown 57 per cent since 2010 and China is expected to be the UK's second largest foreign investor by 2020.

"There are huge trade opportunities here that we want to help British business take advantage of," said the Indian- origin minister.

He held a meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to discuss the UK and China's global strategic partnership as two world powers working together to solve global issues, build economies of the future, and develop strong bilateral trade, investment and people-to-people links, the UK Foreign Office said.

In Beijing, Sharma is also scheduled to hold meetings with clean energy experts and companies to discuss projects supported by the UK government's Prosperity Fund, aimed at helping to promote the economic reform and development needed for growth in partner countries over the next five years.

This work is expected to create opportunities for international business, including UK companies, creating long- term benefits for UK taxpayers, the Foreign Office said.

From Beijing, Sharma will travel to Shenzhen to discuss new energy technologies and investment into the UK with BYD, who are already trialling e-buses and electric taxis in London and across Europe.

In Guangzhou, Sharma will open a new VisitBritain office in a key visitor market, meet Chinese business leaders and hold talks with British companies focussed on corporate social responsibility.

The visit comes against the backdrop of some unease in UK-China relations after May last month unexpectedly delayed a deal which would have seen French firm EDF build two nuclear reactors in Britain, partly financed by China General Nuclear Power.

The project, referred to as the Hinkley nuclear deal, is estimated to be worth 18 billion pounds and had been green-lit under former UK Chancellor George Osborne.

Its future remains in doubt following a change in UK administration in the wake of Britain's June 23 referendum in favour of leaving the European Union.



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