Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

China: We Will Invest Billions to Help Britain with High-Speed Rail

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

China: We Will Invest Billions to Help Britain with High-Speed Rail

Article excerpt

Byline: Oliver Wright in Beijing and Joe Murphy in London

CHINA today revealed it wants to pour billions of pounds into the HS2 rail line between London and the North.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang declared that his country could fund or even help to build the troubled project. He appeared to take British ministers by surprise, with officials in London saying there was no deal on the table.

Chinese investment could prove controversial by enlarging the foreign stake in major British infrastructure, including nuclear power. David Cameron said "no country in the world is more open to Chinese investment than the UK".

The dramatic exchange came at the start of the biggest trade delegation yet to China, with the Prime Minister taking 131 business figures on his plane.

Political opposition to High Speed 2 sharpened with a think-tank that has close links to the Lib-Dem leadership calling for it to be scrapped.

The Centre Forum report said the money could be better spent elsewhere. "The current [pounds sterling]50 billion plus price tag on HS2 would fund a large number of worthwhile projects if HS2 were scrapped," it said. After talks in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Mr Li said: "The two sides have agreed to push for breakthroughs and progress in the co-operation between our enterprises on nuclear power and highspeed rail.

"The Chinese side is willing to not only participate in but also purchase equities and stocks in UK power projects."

Mr Cameron said last week that he would welcome any potential Chinese involvement in HS2. "I'm very interested in what's happening in terms of high-speed rail in China," he said during a visit to a Chinese exhibition at the V&A. "It seems to be an absolute high-speed revolution taking place."

Mr Cameron is attempting to use his second official visit to China to win deals and mend fences following his controversial meeting with Tibet's spiritual leader Dalai Lama last year. …

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