China's top diplomat will visit Britain this week for regular talks and a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday, amid uncertainty about the process of Britain leaving the European Union.
Britain has been a popular choice for Chinese investment, with many firms seeing it as a springboard for the far larger European Union market. But those plans could be at risk with the concerns surrounding what kind of market access Britain will get in future, given its vote in June to leave the EU.
State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, will be in Britain from Monday to Wednesday for a regular dialogue on strategic issues, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.
He will also meet British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and talk about a range of issues, not just Sino-British ties, Hua said, adding she could not predict whether Brexit would directly come up. "But China's position on this is very clear. Brexit is an issue for Britain and the EU. We hope that they can appropriately handle the issue via talks and consultation," Hua said. "For China, we believe that Britain is a great country with important international influence. We hope to work hard with Britain to further promote the development of relations."
Diplomatic sources say China has been seeking clarity from Britain about its Brexit plans, nervous about what it means for Chinese companies in particular.
May has said she will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal process of leaving the EU, by the end of March to start two-year exit talks. However, her plans for those negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy and businesses and investors fear Britain might seek a "hard Brexit", where controlling immigration takes priority over access to the European single market.
CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, has laid out businesses’ priorities following the outcome of the EU referendum, in an article for The Times today (Monday 27 June).
While the majority of businesses did not want to leave the European Union, Carolyn writes that business leaders are determined to work with Government to create the right conditions and face the upcoming challenges with confidence and resilience to achieve the best possible outcomes for the country.
The CBI is also writing to the Prime Minister, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Treasury outlining companies’ top priorities to minimise the uncertainties which could affect the UK’s future economic growth and prosperity.
On the outcome of the EU referendum, Carolyn said:
“The British people have spoken in an explosive referendum result which will define the fortunes of the United Kingdom for generations to come.
“The impact cannot be underestimated and will take time to understand. Many people, including the UK’s thousands of businesses, are asking what this means for them and the people who depend on them. What we need is a plan.
“The government must act with urgency to minimize the uncertainties that affect investment decisions and slow job creation.”
On priorities for business post-EU referendum, Carolyn said:
“The first part of the plan must be to get strong, calm and decisive leadership in place as soon as possible. Never has there been a more important time to put the interests of the country ahead of party politics. Businesses welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of a delay in triggering Article 50 to create breathing space, but need rapid clarity on who is making the decisions.
“Second, we must agree the principles that should underpin our new relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. At the highest level, the government should resolve publicly to preserve the openness of the UK’s economy, one of its greatest strengths.
“This means seeking to protect tariff and barrier-free access to the Single Market, ensuring companies are able to continue to attract the best people to the UK with the skills we need, while recognising public concerns about immigration. And, it means setting out clearly how the UK will agree the right international trade deals with the wider world.
“The third action we must take is to forge close and deep collaboration between business of all sizes across the UK and the government to help shape our future economic relationships. The CBI and business leaders across the UK stand ready to work with the new leaders of our country to help chart the future course, starting as soon as practically possible.”
On working with the government, Carolyn said:
“Business Secretary Sajid Javid has communicated his intent to start this planning process with business and community leaders across the UK and we welcome this.
“There is one other action that needs to be taken immediately. The government should remove uncertainties over the long term right to stay in the UK for those already working here as soon as possible. We welcome the steps the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has taken to give this reassurance.
“No one pretends this transition will be easy or that the change will be pain free. But now is the time for businesses across Britain to come together in partnership with government and communities to turn the will of the British people into a new set of world relationships that benefit everyone.
“At the CBI, we will continue to work in the spirit of partnership to lead the voice of business in these vital decisions. We are committed to securing the best possible future for our country for generations to come.”
27 June 2016
Notes to Editors:
Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. The CBI’s corporate members together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of private sector-employees. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.