China’s new leadership was unveiled on 25th October at the conclusion of the once-every-five-year Communist Party Congress, with Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang starting a second term in office. Five new members have joined Xi and Li in the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC), which is the most important political body in China (see their biographies overleaf). These new members will soon be appointed (if not already) as the heads of the top legislature, the propaganda & ideology department and the anti-corruption body, followed by a wider shakeup of senior government officials (at the Government meetings in March 2018).
All of the seven PBSC members, including Xi and Li, came from an educational background of humanities or economics, whereas previously engineers dominated the elite politics. This may be due to an ever urgent need for the leadership to address domestic social issues (e.g., income inequality and insufficient social service), which Xi said has now become the biggest challenge threatening the Party’s ruling.
On 28 March 2017, APPCG Chair Richard Graham MP hosted a delegation led by Mr. Baimachilin, Vice Chair of the National People’s Congress Ethnic Affairs Committee, who also signed the Westminster Hall book of condolence for the recent attack on Parliament.
APPCG members openly discussed a number of topics with the delegation, enquiring about Chinese policy in ethnic minority regions Tibet and Xinjiang, the protection of religious freedoms and of the Tibetan language, and counter-terrorism policy in Xinjiang.
On 31 January I hosted our annual All Party Parliamentary China Group Chinese New Year reception here in Parliament. This is always a good moment to take stock of the UK-China relationship, and we were honoured with speeches by Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade & Investment and Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, as well as from our two event sponsors the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and VisitBritain.
On Thursday 19 January 2017, the House of Commons Library published “China’s domestic politics and foreign policy“, an exploratory analysis of trends – drawing on the views of selected experts – in the domestic politics and foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China.
UK sees record number of foreign investment projects
The Department for International Trade has said that a record number of investments were made by overseas companies in the UK in the year to April 2016. The department recorded 2,213 inward investment projects over the period, up 11% on the previous year, and its data shows the UK is the most popular destination in Europe for foreign firms. The US was the biggest source of funds, backing 570 projects, but Britain was also Europe’s biggest recipient of investment from emerging markets, with 156 projects backed by Chinese firms and 140 boosted by Indian cash. Projects funded from Latin America more than tripled, up 240%, and East European investment increased 131%. Source: BBC NewsBloombergThe Daily TelegraphSky News
Comment from Richard Graham MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary China Group:
“The 11% rise of UK inward investment highlights the openness of our economy, but also the importance of both US and China (which includes Hong Kong) to our inward investment: China contributed 156 of the total 2,213 projects in the year ending April 2016 (DIT stats). We should remain open to inward investment.
“It is also good to see highlighted the growth of Indian investment, and in % terms from a low base, South America and Eastern Europe.
“This APPG welcomes Chinese inward investment, and strongly supported the Hinkley Point deal, which is vital to our nuclear capacity and our overall domestically generated energy. There will be other important infrastructure opportunities for Chinese and other overseas investors, and I expect positive announcements on this during the Autumn Statement.”
This is a cross-post from a recent article written for the Times Red Box by Richard Graham MP, MP for Gloucester and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary China Group.
The divisions in British thinking about China have long been there, but are more visible now after our implicit change of government.
On the one side is British real politik: some politicians, businesses, economists and civil servants who see growth via trade and investment as the overriding basis for our relationship. They certainly talk about the rule of law, critical to the safety of our investment, and go through the motions of listening to the Dalai Lama, dissidents, human and animal rights campaigners – but little more. Their bottom line is we need their investment, and our value is in welcoming it without restriction – the most open economy in the West, almost the cheerleader of the Chinese “go global” policy.
Richard Graham MP and the All Party Parliamentary China Group have welcomed the government’s support for the Hinkley Point C power plant to be jointly developed by EDF and the China General Nuclear Power (CGN)-led Chinese consortium.
Chairman of the All Party Group Richard Graham said, “I think it’s absolutely right that the government has decided to go ahead with this project. Hinkley Point C is a key investment in UK infrastructure and energy capacity providing 7% of Britain’s electricity that helps secure our future energy needs. And as the first nuclear power plant here for over 20 years it will grow our skills and ability to lead in carbon free and domestically sourced nuclear energy. It is also quite right that the government has regulations in place about the security of such vital infrastructure.”
Under an agreement between the Chinese consortium and EDF Energy, the CGN-led Chinese consortium holds a one-third stake in the project. Richard Graham added “whilst there will be no Chinese involvement in the day to day operations of the nuclear plant, this investment will give Chinese nuclear companies valuable experience of UK corporate governance and how nuclear energy is regulated in the West. This is good for them, for us and for the future safety of nuclear energy in the world.”
On February 1st, the APPCG held our 2016 annual APPCG Chinese New Year reception in the House of Commons, hosted by Chair of the APPCG, Richard Graham MP.
This year we were delighted to welcome our Guests of Honour, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, alongside H.E. Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming.
Guests included many businesses working or hoping to work in China, alongside representatives from the Chinese Embassy, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, the Foreign Office, UKTI, and MPs and Peers from all parties.
The Secretary of State and the Chinese Ambassador spoke warmly of the increasing strength in links between UK and China, and the fantastic year which we have seen in UK-China relations, culminating in the State Visit from President Xi Jinping last October. Guests also heard from VisitBritain’s CEO Sally Balcombe and CBBC Chairman Lord Sassoon on the great strides they have been making in further opening UK exports and tourism to China.
A selection of photos from the event can be viewed below, and for any enquiries please contact us.
Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester and Chair of the APPCG, released the followed statement on the disappearance of Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo:
“News that British passport holder and Hong Kong resident Lee Bo is reported missing last week, following the recent disappearance of four other employees of Mighty Current publishing house in Hong Kong, is of real concern.
I hope that the Hong Kong and mainland authorities will co-operate with our Consulate General to find Mr Lee and ensure the safety of British citizens in Hong Kong.
I support the Foreign Secretary’s call for any charges against British residents in Hong Kong to be heard in Hong Kong.
I will raise this at lunch with Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming on Monday.
An APPCG delegation to Hong Kong at the end of January will also raise both Mr Lee’s case and the wider issues of treatment of residents, freedom of press and the rule of law during their visit.
Meanwhile I hope Mr Lee returns home safely soon.”
Richard Graham MP
Chair of the All Party Parliamentary China Group