UK Eyes Greater Yuan Role, More Chinese Nuclear Investment

By Sui Lee Wee 21 September 2015

BEIJING — British finance minister George Osborne said on Monday Britain would like to continue helping the gradual internationalization of the yuan and that it welcomed the potential for majority Chinese investment in future nuclear projects.

Speaking at the start of an annual economic and financial dialogue, Osborne said that there was probably no country in the West that was more open to Chinese investment than Britain.

Britain will also provide 2 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) of initial support for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in southwest England, a project China is backing, the finance ministry added.

The guarantee will pave the way for French utility EDF, and financial partners China General Nuclear Corp and China National Nuclear Corp, to give the go-ahead to the 16 billion-pound scheme later this year, the government said.

“We very much welcome Chinese investment not just in that project but the potential for majority Chinese investment in future nuclear projects in the United Kingdom,” Osborne said.

“There is another opportunity for Chinese investment, in high speed rail, in the north of England,” he added, without elaborating.

Despite disagreements over human rights and the former British colony of Hong Kong, China values Britain’s staunch defense of free trade and lack of obstacles to investing in Britain. Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Britain next month.

London has been especially keen to attract Chinese banks and encourage offshore trade in the yuan to bolster its position as the world’s main center for foreign exchange trading.

“We want to continue to play our role as the world’s leading financial center in helping with the gradual internationalization of the renminbi, and I hope we can take further steps today to strengthen cooperation between our financial markets,” Osborne said.