China Buying the UK Piece by Piece

China Buying the UK Piece by Piece
Photo Credit:AP/ 達志影像

What you need to know

"Owned by China" is replacing "Made in China" in the UK market today. For example, China has already bought 9% of the Thames Water Utilities, 10% of the Heathrow Airport, 60% of Weetabix, 89% of House of Fraser, 80% of EDF and all of PizzaExpress. The British are probably unaware of these purchases.

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Chinese President Xi Jin-ping plans to visit England in late October, and BBC Chinese network published an article on October 7 saying the British government will welcome Xi with the finest hospitality. But other than saying this is an expression of admiration for a leader of a great nation, you can also say it is done in awe of wealth because Chinese companies are buying Britain bit by bit, from pizzerias to nuclear power plants.

The article says that “Owned by China" is replacing “Made in China" in the UK market today. For example, China has already bought 9% of the Thames Water Utilities, 10% of the Heathrow Airport, 60% of Weetabix, 89% of House of Fraser, 80% of EDF and all of PizzaExpress. The British are probably unaware of these purchases.

The article also points out that what’s worth worrying is the Chinese is making huge investments in strategic areas such as energy, telecommunications, infrastructure and so on in England. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in September in Beijing that the British government will invest two billion pounds (approximately US$ 3 billion) in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset, which Chinese enterprises have also taken part in.

The article mentions why the British government seems to lack vigilance in the eyes of critics and why they appear to bear an ambiguous attitude when dealing with issues concerning political principals. It all comes down to money. The Centre for Economics & Business Research in UK predicts that by 2025, the amount of money the Chinese will have invested in infrastructure projects in the UK will reach 105 billion pounds (approximately US$ 161 billion).

China buying the UK is not a single phenomenon. In 2013, the book, “China’s Silent Army," was published. The two authors are experienced journalists from Spain and they spent two years conducting over five hundred interviews in 25 countries to explore how China is quietly taking over the world with economic means.

France Medias Monde reports, the authors write in the preface that the global financial crisis intensified in 2012. This not only had a serious after effect on Europe, but also strengthened our hypothesis of the past two years: China’s expansion is unstoppable and extends all over the world. It is also caused by the economic recession in the west. Furthermore, the financial crisis not only contributed to China’s influence among developing countries, but also gave it the strength to knock on the doors of the west because the economic turmoil offered some tempting business opportunities, especially in Europe.

The authors said in an interview with BBC Chinese network, “You will find that the state-owned enterprises and state-owned banks in China have also exported their domestic problems to abroad, such as the impact on the environment and society. For example, the Shougang Group in China is notorious for environmental pollution and is bringing these problems to other countries. I believe China needs to adopt a power-balancing mechanism to change this situation and also needs to develop a civil society. It must relax its control over the media and strengthen the law."

Translated by Olivia Yang

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