Relations with China still golden, says British Prime Minister Theresa May
While she sidesteps Hinkley Point controversy, she says a total commitment to global free trade will be essential for post-Brexit Britain.
British Prime Minister Theresa May was keen to set up new trade relations with the rest of the world at the G20 summit as the UK prepares to leave the European Union and said relations with China were still in a golden period.
Watch: UK PM May meets Chinese president Xi
Since coming to office, May’s new cabinet has been reviewing a multibillion Hinkley Point C nuclear power project, that was to be partially funded by the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation, concerned that the deal might threaten Britain’s national security.
At a press conference on Monday, May made only a brief mention of the Hinkley project, saying that the decision would be made later this month.
“But our relationship with China is more than Hinkley, if you look at Chinese investment in other parts of UK,” May said.
“We have built a global strategic partnership with china. And I have been clear that we will continue that partnership with China. It’s the golden era of UK’s relationship with China.”
May was due to hold talks with President Xi Jinping on Monday after the conclusion of the G20 summit.
Beijing is dismayed by the postponement of the project. Its envoy to London has warned that Sino-British relationships were at a “crucial historical juncture,” and called on UK to “keep its door open to China”
Mainland media also said Britain’s suspicion of Chinese investment could dampen trust between the two nations.
The major part of May’s address to the press focused on her ambition of building broad trade relationships with the other G20 countries as Britain’s exit from the EU could hurt the UK economy.
“As UK leaves the EU, I have set out our ambition to become a global leader of free trade. In our bilateral meetings, I’ve signalled our determination to secure [trade] deals with countries from around the world,” May said.
She had talked to leaders from India, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore that “welcomed talks on removing the barriers to trade between our countries.”
May pledged to unveil her trade strategy soon and decide which markets around the world would be priorities. She also pledged crack down on corporate irresponsibility, such as excessive remuneration, and would continue to push the benefits of free trade to help “make a global economy that works for eveybody”.