The United Kingdom is seeking to strengthen its economic and trade ties with China, according to the British newspaper “The Guardian”, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that he is an interested and admired person of Chinese culture.
Johnson says he is determined to improve relations between Britain and China “whatever the political difficulties”.
The prime minister’s comments, made during a meeting with representatives of Chinese companies in London, are likely to anger lawmakers in his conservative party who want the government to take a tougher approach to Beijing’s human rights violations.
Johnson indicated that he wanted to “resume official trade discussions between the two countries by reactivating the annual economic and financial forum and the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (GITCO). Both were suspended in response to “China’s suppression of civil rights in Hong Kong,” according to the newspaper.
The meeting took place on “Downing Street” on February 12 and formed an occasion to celebrate the Lunar New Year in China, and was attended by representatives of some companies in China such as “Swire” and “Tinacity”, a real estate and investment group based in Hong Kong.
Johnson’s “enthusiasm” to rebuild trade ties with China comes as human rights advocates demand a new approach.
The United Kingdom suspended most formal economic dialogues with China last year to protest Beijing’s imposition of new “repressive laws” in Hong Kong.
Sources close to Johnson suggest that he is “ready” to sign new investment agreements and open markets with China, according to the newspaper.
Office for National Statistics figures show that the UK imported more goods from China worth 11 billion pounds ($ 15.4 billion), more than any other trading partner in the second quarter of 2020.
In the first quarter, China accounted for the largest proportion of UK merchandise imports. The proportion of UK imports from China increased from 8.6% in the first quarter of last year to 13.4% in the second quarter of the same year.
The newspaper says that “there is tension in the government and a problem of balance regarding the policy towards China after Brexit, and that lies between seeking to replace European markets and Britain presenting itself as a force for good in the world defending human rights.”
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