Saturday, June 22, 2024

Britain cannot afford to turn its back on Chinese money, warns City minister

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Britain cannot afford to turn its back on Chinese money despite growing concerns about Beijing’s interference with the West, a top Treasury minister has warned.

Bim Afolami, the City minister, said Britain could not give China the “cold shoulder” because its banks and financial institutions were simply too large to ignore.

Mr Afolami said: “We are very clear that you simply cannot give the cold shoulder to an economy that is home to a fifth of the world’s globally systemically important banks, four of the world’s largest banks and almost a third of the world’s global leading financial sectors. It just doesn’t make sense.”

The minister’s call for engagement comes despite growing concerns about Beijing’s interventions in the West.

China has been blamed for a hack on a Ministry of Defence contractor that compromised the details of thousands of troops.

Anne Keast-Butler, the head of GCHQ, last week said China represents a “genuine and increasing cyber risk to the UK” and warned that the country “poses a significant risk to international norms and values”.

Mr Afolami’s comments echo the sentiment of Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, who has urged greater engagement with China.

The junior minister told a conference hosted by City & Financial Global: “Where China is concerned we are taking the long view. We should only engage of course where it’s consistent with our interests but be in no doubt that is absolutely not the same thing as disengaging.

“If we hesitate too much, as Lord Cameron the Foreign Secretary himself noted two weeks ago, our competitors will write our future for us. I echo the view of the Foreign Secretary.”

Mr Afolami’s call to engage with China comes as the UK seeks to attract fast fashion brand Shein to list on the London stock market.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has reportedly held talks with Shein’s executive chairman Donald Tang to persuade the company, which was founded in China, to pick the UK for its listing.

The mooted £50bn initial public offering would be the largest new listing in the capital for several years.

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