Last year, the UK Border Agency processed almost 300,000 visa applications for Chinese nationals, with 97% of visas processed within 15 days. China is a priority market for the UK, and we want to support both tourists and business people coming to our country.
Following on from the Worcestershire business delegation that I took to southern China late last year, as per my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, in June we have a return delegation visiting Worcestershire from Nanning. While ensuring that we have proper immigration controls, may I encourage Ministers to do everything they can to facilitate business visits that can bring bilateral trade and investment?
First, let me congratulate my hon. Friend on his personal contribution to increasing UK trade with China. He will want to know that there was an increase in visit visas issued to Chinese nationals of 6% last year. In December, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary set out a range of improvements to the visa process, particularly to support business customers, and they will be implemented this year.