- POSTED: 11 Oct 2013 20:06
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British Chancellor George Osborne and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson are about to embark on a trip to China with the aim of attracting more Chinese investment, tourists and students to the United Kingdom.
LONDON: British Chancellor George Osborne and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson are about to embark on a trip to China with the aim of attracting more Chinese investment, tourists and students to the United Kingdom.
UK politicians will be keen to point out the benefits of investing in Britain at a time when China is showing more assertiveness on the world stage, and with the US embroiled in a political stand-off over its budget.
There is no doubt in Johnson's mind about the ever growing influence of China on the world stage.
"When I was at school, I learnt Latin and Greek. My children are learning Mandarin. That is the way, the world has changed," said the mayor.
This is Johnson's first trip to China since the 2008 Beijing Olympics and he will be looking to build relationships with businesses and officials in a bid to attract further investment into the UK capital.
Alexander Ehmann, head of government and parliamentary affairs at the Institute of Directors, said: "It is great news that the government is building relations with large world powers emerging across the globe. China is one of those and it is good news they are trying to establish stronger trade, business and cultural ties."
One of the major aims is to attract more Chinese students to London and for more Chinese brains to be working at the capital's new business hub, which is going to be built just down the river in East London by 2017.
However, with other major infrastructure projects planned, plenty more foreign cash is needed.
Johnson said: "I am determined to have the maximum possible collaboration, partnership and I am open to all sorts of investment. Nothing is off limits as far as I am concerned. We have lots of opportunities in terms of higher education, real estate, technology. There are massive opportunities in banking and finance."
Domestically, there are some concerns about overseas investment in strategic assets but Victoria Barbary, the director of the Institutional Investor Sovereign Wealth Centre, said these should not be overblown.
"They don't want to create a protectionist backlash so there is never a controlling interest. Take Heathrow airport, there is Spain, Singapore, Qatar involved as well as China so that international feeling is far less threatening," explained Barbary.
Foreign direct investment from China has fallen and some blamed it on a very public meeting between the British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Dalai Lama, met by disapproval in Beijing.
Barbary has attributed the decline to a slowdown in growth.
As the second biggest economy in the world, China still has vast amounts of money to invest and the UK wants to be at the front of the queue.