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UK chancellor: “Stop treating China like a sweatshop on the Pearl River”

Posted: 10/15/2013 7:00 am

Britain’s chief financial minister George Osborne has said that Britain must show respect and stop treating China like a sweatshop on the Pearl River, The Daily Telegraph reports. Osborne made the remarks as Britain loosens its visa policy for Chinese tourists.

Osborne, the Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, told BBC Radio 4 during his ongoing China trip: “Of course we can bring up issues that we have concerns about. But we have to respect the fact that it is a deep and ancient civilisation that is tackling its own problems. We do need to show some respect for that.”

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, China did well to identify export markets and grew rapidly due to a vast increase in its exports of cheap manufactured goods such as clothes and textiles. At the country’s current stage of development this is not sustainable. For this reason, China has shifted its focus to exporting high-end manufactured goods and been successful in doing so. Since 2011, Chinese exports to the U.S. of high-tech electronics, auto parts and optical devices rose 24% to $129 billion, while exports of clothing rose just 5% to $47 billion, as the Wall Street Journal reported in April.

Osborne appears to want a piece of this pie as well as invite investment from China. It was reported Sunday that a deal with Chinese investors will see an Airport City at Manchester Airport creating as many as 16,000 jobs.

The paper has more:

Chinese leaders are determined to tackle corruption and organised crime and Britain must take advantage of their booming economy, Mr Osborne said, as he announced a radical relaxation of visa rules intended to boost the number of Chinese business travellers and tourists to Britain.

Under plans revealed by the Chancellor in China today, Chinese visitors will be able to apply for a British visa using the same form as that used to enter the EU’s ‘Schengen’ zone. Currently visitors have to fill in a lengthy separate application and have their fingerprints taken.

A 24-hour “super-priority” service will operate from next summer. Officials are also looking at expanding a VIP mobile visa service, currently operating in Beijing and Shanghai, to the whole country.

He also said a new wave of Chinese tourists would be “fantastic” for the British hotel industry, even though concerns have been raised around the world about the behaviour of Chinese tourists.

However, not everybody supports the move.

Home secretary Theresa May said relaxing visa arrangements for Chinese travellers would threaten national security and bring organised criminals and fraudsters to Britain. She has attempted to block the proposals but is unlikely to get her way.

This is good news for all kinds of people, from entrepreneurs trying to do business between the two countries to people trying to relocate their Chinese spouse or family to Britain.

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