Britain’s Theresa May lauds ties with China in Lunar New Year video

China invests more in Britain than any other European nation, prime minister says, and number of mainland tourists has doubled in five years

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 11:25pm

British Prime Minister Theresa May offered Lunar New Year greetings in a video posted on her Twitter page on the weekend, ­heralding what she said would be a year of blossoming ties between China and Britain.

“What a year it is set to be, ­particularly, for the relationship between Britain and China,” May said in the clip, capping it with a festive greeting in ­Putonghua.

Fresh from her trip to Washington last week as the first international leader to meet newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump, May emphasised the strength of Sino-British trade ties.

“We receive more Chinese investment than any other major European country,” May said. “The number of Chinese tourists has doubled in five years.”

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President Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain in late 2015 paved the way for £40 billion (HK$384 billion) in deals between the two countries, including the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project. China also chose London as a key offshore market to issue yuan bonds and Britain joined the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Analysts say Britain is keen to seal bilateral trade deals with various countries, including China, as it prepares to leave the European Union and its single market.

May also noted that the 20th anniversary of the 1997 return of Hong Kong to China was only a few months away.

Chris Patten questions UK’s ‘sense of honour’ over Hong Kong’s future

It came after the city’s last colonial governor, Chris Patten, said in an interview with the BBC on Thursday that Britain might back-pedal on its promise to safeguard Hong Kong’s freedoms as guaranteed in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration because it was keen to curry favour with China.

“I worry about how people are prepared to sell our honour for ­alleged trade deals,” Patten said.

“The argument that the only way you can do trade with China is by kowtowing to China on political issues is drivel – it’s complete nonsense.”