Ministers will woo big-spending Chinese investors at a global summit in October as Britain attempts to strengthen post-Brexit ties with the authoritarian state.
Sources said representatives from the world’s second biggest economy would attend the Global Investment Summit at London’s Science Museum. Their presence among up to 200 of the world’s top investors comes despite concerns over human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.
The latest pivot towards China comes as hopes of a breakthrough on financial services “equivalence” with the EU fade. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Mansion House speech last week said the UK should trade with China “in a safe, mutually beneficial way without compromising our values or security”.
Britain’s economic ties with China support 129,000 UK jobs, according to the China Britain Business Council. Andrew Seaton, its chief executive, 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 strong trade and investment relationship.”
National security concerns prompted a ban on the telecoms giant Huawei from supplying kit for the UK’s 5G phone network. But the Chinese firm Envision is partnering with carmaker Nissan on a new battery factory in Sunderland.
Lord Grimstone, the UK’s investment tsar, said: “We have a clear eyed view of China, very clear eyed view of Chinese investment. We absolutely welcome Chinese investment, where it is mutually beneficial to the UK… If you engage in trade and investment with a country you are able to have a dialogue with them about human rights.”