Ministers will court big Chinese investors at a world summit in October as Britain attempts to strengthen post-Brexit ties with the authoritarian state.
Sources said representatives of the world’s second-largest economy will attend the World Investment Summit at the Science Museum in London. Their presence among up to 200 of the world’s largest investors comes amid concerns over human rights violations against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.
The latest pivot to China comes as hopes of a breakthrough on “equivalence” of financial services with the EU fade. Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Mansion House speech last week said the UK should trade with China “in a secure and mutually beneficial manner without compromising our values or our security”.
Britain’s economic ties with China support 129,000 jobs in the UK, according to the China Britain Business Council. Andrew Seaton, its managing director, said: “I think we have seen a clarification in recent weeks of government thinking – with a clear recognition of the economic importance to the UK of a trade relationship and solid investment. “
National security concerns have prompted telecommunications giant Huawei to supply kits for the UK’s 5G telephone network. But the Chinese firm Envision is teaming up with the automaker Nissan on a new battery plant in Sunderland.
Lord Grimstone, the investment czar of the UK, said: “We have a clear view of China, a very clear view of Chinese investments. We absolutely welcome Chinese investment, where it is mutually beneficial for the UK… If you engage in trade and investment with a country, you can have a human rights dialogue with it.