Recent comments from China have dismissed the importance of the British economy, in remarks that could be symptomatic of the unwelcoming UK visa system.
Comments published in the Global Times, China's state-run newspaper, stated that Britain is “easily replaceable in China's European foreign policy” and is “no longer any kind of big country”.
The paper went so far as to dismiss Britain's business credentials, arguing that the country is “merely a country of old Europe suitable for tourism and overseas study, with a few decent football teams”.
The changes made to the UK visa system in the past few years have already been criticised by business organisations for making the country look unwelcoming to businesses and skilled workers from abroad.
The latest remarks from the Chinese paper have been made during a trade visit to the country by British prime minister David Cameron. Mr Cameron asserted that that the UK visa system does not impose a limit on the number of Chinese people who can come to study in the country and, while in talks with with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang regarding trade links, he also discussed opening the HS2 rail project up to Chinese investment.
In response to the criticism from the Global Times, Mr Cameron said: “This is a visit that has delivered almost £6 billion worth of deals. It comes on the back of an 18-month period where we have seen more Chinese investment into Britain than in the previous 30 years.”
He added that in his opinion British people had “a very good understanding” of how important it is to bring the economy back to a position of prosperity in the wake of the recession. Cameron suggested that China's economic rise will take a major part in this, adding: “China’s economic rise is going to play a huge role in the world and Britain should be in there pitching for business, for investment, for deals, securing jobs at home.”