Chinese Investors Have Bought up £135bn of British Infrastructure, Business, Schools: Report

2LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Chinese President Xi Jinping wears 3D glasses to view robotic equipment in the Hamlyn Centre for Medical Robotics during a visit to Imperial College on October 21, 2015 in London, England. The President of the Peoples Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping and his wife, …
Anthony Devlin - WPA Pool /Getty Images

British businesses, schools, property, and critical infrastructure have reportedly been bought up by Chinese investors to the tune of £135 billion, doubling previous estimates.

Companies or investors from communist-run China have been revealed to own stakes in infrastructure projects such as Thames Water, Heathrow airport, and UK Power Networks. The Chinese have also bought some £57 billion in shares in FTSE 100 companies as well as some £10 billion in property throughout Britain.

The scale of Chinese investment in the United Kingdom has significantly ramped up over the past few years, according to an investigation by the Sunday Times, which found that 40 per cent of the 200 investments uncovered were made since 2019.

A previous accounting estimate of Chinese investment in Britain, conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, put the level at $99 billion (£71 billion).

Of the £135 billion in Chinese investments revealed by the latest investigation, at least £44 billion came from entities owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The paper did note, however, that the value of “dozens of investments” was not possible to determine, and therefore the true scale of Chinese encroachment in Britain is likely far higher than the £135 billion identified.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith commented: “This demonstrates that successive governments have been asleep on the watch. This evidence today shows how dangerously we are sailing towards Chinese control of key aspects of our business.

“China poses the single greatest strategic threat to the UK and the free world and we must make sure that we understand exactly how they set about essentially controlling key areas of economies, not only in the UK but also abroad.”

The founder and chairman of Hong Kong Watch, Benedict Rogers, described the investigation as “incredibly alarming”, saying: “This is precisely why we urgently need decoupling, ending strategic dependency and to disentangle ourselves from the clutches of the Chinese Communist Party.”

“To allow this to continue is profoundly stupid and profoundly dangerous,” Rogers added.

Seventeen public schools — which in British parlance means privately-owned rather than state-owned — were also identified as having seen Chinese investment. This backs up previous reporting, which identified the same number of schools as having ties to the communist regime.

An investigation in February found that the schools are presenting students with a “whitewashed” version of China, with one school openly admitting that the purpose of investing in British education was to propagandise for the CCP’s One Belt, One Road global initiative.

“In essence, this is nothing less than a Communist takeover of part of Britain’s private education sector,” Brexit leader Nigel Farage said at the time.

Universities in Britain have also come under increased scrutiny for working with the Chinese regime to develop weapons technologies.  The scandal has prompted the British foreign intelligence service MI6 to launch an investigation into “some of the most prestigious universities in the country” for possibly violating national security laws.

An estimated 200 British academics are also said to be under investigation for allegedly sharing military technology secrets with China

A research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre, George Magnus, tied the increase in Chinese investment in Britain to the so-called ‘Golden Era’ policies put forward by former Tory prime minister David Cameron and his Chancellor of the Exquecher, George Osbourne.

“I think it makes them look chronically naive,” Magnus said, adding: “I think they genuinely believed that this was the way to go and I think they did it because they completely misunderstood the nature of Xi Jinping’s China.”

In April, Mr Cameron was revealed to have reportedly used his connections to secure government approval for a $1 billion (£718 million) UK-China Fund, of which he later became vice-chairman.

Despite growing tensions between China and the United Kingdom over issues such as human rights atrocities being committed in Xinjiang and violations of the Sin0-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to still be actively seeking a post-Brexit trade deal with Beijing.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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