Touch down from the east

Source: The Guardian

Job losses in the UK steel industry, human rights issues, a fundamental shift in UK foreign policy or investment in British infrastructure, one current thread binds them all; the state visit of Chinese President Xi. The all-powerful President’s visit – the first from any Chinese top leader in 10 years - could not be coming at a more compelling time. With the UK at a crossroads in its relationship with the EU and uncertain over how to respond to conflicts in the Middle East this visit could mark an historic shift that sees the UK latch itself onto the Chinese economic bandwagon.

The news that Tata Steel is set to announce today that 1,200 jobs are being cut at its plants in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire adds fuel to the fire for this state visit, with many blaming cheap Chinese imports for a crisis in the UK steel industry. Whilst David Cameron is expected to raise this issue with President Xi, the news overnight will only lead to further criticism from Labour and the trade unions, who see Chinese action as anti-competitive. How the Prime Minister skirts this along with other highly-charged topics including human rights and cyber security issues remains to be seen. It could all certainly make one interesting visit.

Peter Folland

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search