Hong Kong is making a ministerial visit to the UK for the first time in three years
One of Hong Kong’s most senior finance officials plans to visit the UK in April, his first ministerial-level trip to the territory in three years, in a sign of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s quiet restart of UK-China economic ties.
The planned trip by Financial Services Minister Christopher Hui is the first since the UK accused China of violating the Sino-UK Joint Declaration, the 1984 treaty that brought Hong Kong under Chinese control, and since the UK offered for Hong Kong citizens to obtain citizenship. in the wake of Beijing’s crackdown on the area.
The planned visit comes as Hong Kong embarks on a global charm offensive to restore business ties after the lifting of pandemic restrictions that effectively cut off the city from the rest of the world. The government is trying to win back tourists and skilled workers after curbing Covid-19 and political action in response to the 2019 pro-democracy protests triggered an exodus.
Hui will meet with UK officials and business representatives in London, according to two people familiar with preparations for the trip. Hui’s office confirmed he would visit Europe this year, but said details would be “announced in due course”.
Relations between the UK and China have soured after Beijing introduced a national security law in Hong Kong in 2020 and overhauled the city’s governance to bring it under the control of central authorities next year.
In 2021, then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said China was not abiding by the joint declaration that was supposed to guarantee Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years after the territory returned to Beijing’s control in 1997.
China has since criticized the UK after it introduced a new immigration route for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents and their dependents under Britain’s national overseas visa scheme, which includes a pathway to citizenship.
UK business is increasingly concerned about the rhetoric of British politicians on China, fearing that it threatens trade relations.
In an update on his administration’s foreign and defense policy this week, Sunak identified China as an “era-defining challenge” and cited China’s growing confidence as it finalized a defense pact with the United States and Australia in San Diego.
But analysts said the wording of the policy update was a step back from when Sun called China the UK’s “biggest long-term threat” during the Tory campaign last year.
“There’s a difference between someone who’s not governing and someone who is governing,” said Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese studies at King’s College London.
“Sunak is a technocrat trying to work out how to balance those interests with China. . . Much more flexible [than his predecessors].”
As chancellor, Sun has championed trade ties with China and suggested taking on Beijing with an approach defined by “strong pragmatism” as the UK faces a number of economic challenges.
Chinese authorities have also tried to lure back foreign businesses after a zero-Covid protection policy and geopolitical tensions prompted multinationals to consider moving supply chains out of the country.
China’s foreign ministry has organized visits by foreign officials and businessmen to four cities in the Greater Bay Area, a ring of more than 70 million people in the mainland surrounding Hong Kong, starting Sunday, four of the people said, to showcase business opportunities. you know the thing.
Consular officials and business chambers, including representatives from the UK, Europe and Australia, are expected to join a four-day visit to Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Dongguan. U.S. officials do not plan to attend, citing scheduling conflicts, according to a person familiar with the matter.