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Volume 569: debated on Tuesday 29 October 2013

10. What assessment he has made of opportunities for the UK arising from recent ministerial delegations to China. (900738)

Recent visits by my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and the Secretary of State for Transport highlighted the huge potential of the UK-China relationship. Their visits achieved significant breakthroughs in relation to civil nuclear co-operation, low-carbon partnerships, financial services, transport and inward investment.

I welcome that news, and, in particular, the jobs that the investment will bring. Perhaps most significant is the fact that Britain will be the first country outside China to have its own renminbi investment quota, which will establish London as a leading centre for renminbi trading. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that this success is founded on our open society and our long record of promoting open economies, and demonstrates to our partners in China that Britain is most certainly open for business?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Britain is very much open for business, and it is in China’s interest to invest in it. According to official Chinese statistics, the United Kingdom is now the most popular destination in Europe for Chinese investment, and the fourth most popular globally. Last year, our own exports to China hit £1 billion a month for the first time.

Some of the ministerial delegations included British business men so that the case could be made for British business. How many of them were of Chinese origin?

I do not have that information at my fingertips, but I imagine that quite a few of them were. I will write to the right hon. Gentleman with the details. What I can say is that we have built a tremendous relationship—in both directions—with China, founded on the activities of Chinese business men and British business people of Chinese origin, and we will continue to do so.