Visit closes $9b nuclear deal

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-22 0:58:01

Business delegation inks contracts in wide range of industries

Chinese President Xi Jinping, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan and Britain's Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, applaud a performance at Lancaster House in London on Wednesday. Photo: AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping will be focusing the second day of his state visit to the UK on boosting trade ties, with a number of business deals expected to be signed on Wednesday. 

Following a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street, where a wide range of issues, from global security to poverty and climate change, will be discussed, Xi will attend a UK-China Business Summit at Mansion House to meet the chief executives of big British companies.

The highlight of the second day of Xi's visit was the announcement that the State-owned China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) will invest 6 billion pounds ($9 billion) in French utility EDF's Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project in Britain.

CGN will take a 33.5 percent stake in the 18 billion pound project in southwest England, whose start-up date has been pushed back by two years to 2025, and which will be the first nuclear plant to be built in Europe since the Fukushima disaster.

Britain had sealed oil and gas deals with China worth more than 12 billion pounds, including with BP Plc, Cameron announced after his meeting with Xi.

Cameron also said on Wednesday that Carnival Corp, the world's largest cruise ship operator, had signed a 2.6 billion pound joint venture deal with China to make new cruise ships.

British engineer Rolls Royce also signed a deal worth 1.4 billion pounds in cooperation with China.

China on Wednesday nearly doubled a bilateral currency swap agreement with Britain to 350 billion yuan ($55 billion), part of Beijing efforts to increase the use of the yuan abroad.

Chinese company SinoFortone Group on Wednesday announced an investment of 100 million pounds in the London Paramount Entertainment Resort, a new theme park in Kent county. The resort, including hotels, restaurants and bars as well as rides and shows, costs 3.2 billion pounds and is expected to open in 2021.

Merlin Entertainment and China Media Capital have agreed to establish a Legoland Park in Shanghai, as part of a deal to explore opportunities to build attractions throughout China, the BBC reported.

Another highly-anticipated deal under discussion is a high speed railway project, for which the UK has been seeking investments from China.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne opened the bidding process for the HS2 rail line project during a trip to China in September, and urged Chinese rail firms to start making offers for contracts worth 11.8 billion pounds for the project's first phase.

Win-win relationship

 "A growing Sino-British relationship benefits both countries and the world as a whole," Xi told a state banquet at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday night.

Experts say the deals represent the start of a "golden era" in China-UK relations, where cooperation will expand to several sectors.

Chen Fengying, director of the World Economy Institute of China's Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said such a broad cooperation between China and the UK will boost trade ties and foster people-to-people exchanges, as well as benefit people in both countries economically and socially.   

Analysts have also commented on the significance of China's investment in the Hinkley Point nuclear station.

 "It's a symbolic step that shows that China's nuclear power industry has successfully entered the world market," Lin Boqiang, director of the Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times, adding that the project will open more doors for Chinese nuclear companies in the future.

Agencies contributed to this story

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