Despite growing public tensions between the UK and China over issues such as human rights and Hong Kong, at least £135 billion worth of British businesses, schools, property, stocks, and vital infrastructure have been acquired by Chinese investors, many of which directly state-owned or linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), over the past few years, according to a new investigation by UK-based The Sunday Times.
Companies or investors from communist-ruled China have infiltrated the ownership of key areas of Britain’s infrastructure and education. Reporting by Breitbart shows the Communist Party has even been stealing weapons technologies to support the aggression of the red regime, that a conflict of interest in the form of the UK-China fund advocated by former Prime Minister David Cameron has contributed in part to the current situation.
According to The Times’ research, the scale of Chinese investment in the UK has increased significantly over the past several years, with roughly 40 percent of the 200 investments identified being made since 2019.
Of the £135 billion in Chinese investment found in the report, at least £44 billion came from entities owned by the CCP. However, the paper notes it has taken a conservative approach to its estimations by valuing property based on price at acquisition rather than current market price, and that because “It has not been possible to assess the value of dozens of investments and therefore the true value of Chinese ownership in the UK is likely to be far higher than the £135 billion found.”
British assets bought by Chinese entities include shares in key infrastructure operators such as Thames Water, Heathrow Airport and UK Power Networks. The Chinese also acquired approximately £57 billion of shares in FTSE 100 companies and almost £10 billion worth of real estate across the country.
One example is that of Chinese state-owned company China General Nuclear Power Group, who purchased a 33.5 percent stake in the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in southwest England, the first new nuclear plant to be built in the UK in more than 20 years. In addition, China Investment Corporation (CIC), a sovereign wealth fund, has also bought a significant stake in both the British oil and gas companies and the renewable energy sector.
On the high-tech front, British semiconductor design firm Imagination Technologies was acquired by Chinese government-funded private equity fund Canyon Bridge for £550 million in 2017. Meanwhile, steel giant Shagang Group is now the largest shareholder in Global Switch, a London-based data center operator.
Chinese investors are also buying private schools and health care institutions in the UK, with at least 17 educational institutions in the UK now in the hands of Chinese investors.
Previously, the American Enterprise Institute conducted an accounting estimate of Chinese investment in the UK, valuing the holdings at $99 billion USD (£71 billion approx). The Sunday Times’ report reveals a substantial increase in Chinese foreign investment.
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told The Times, “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, echoed the concerns, describing the investigation as “incredibly alarming” on Twitter.
“This is precisely why we urgently need decoupling, ending strategic dependency and to 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.
British education with a Chinese tint
The report revealed that 17 privately-owned British public schools were also identified as being under Chinese investment or control. This supports previous reports that the same number of schools were linked to the Communist regime.
An article by Daily Mail in February revealed Chinese firms bought three schools, including Abbots Bromley School near Lichfield, Staffordshire, which was forced to close its doors in 2019.
One of the most high-profile buyers is Bright Scholar, which bought a number of schools and colleges in 2018 and 2019, including Bournemouth Collegiate School and St. Michael’s School in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.
Bright Scholar is owned by Yang Huiyan, who is reportedly worth £2 billion, making her Asia’s richest woman. Her father, Yang Guoqiang, is a member of the Communist Party’s highest-ranking advisory council.
Two independent schools – Bedstone College in Shropshire and Ipswich High School – are now owned by a fund backed by Wanda Group, founded by Wang Jianlin, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier. Wang’s net worth is estimated at roughly £10 billion.
He is also a member of a senior Communist Party advisory council.
Another company, Ray Education Group, bought Adcote School for Girls near Shrewsbury and Myddelton College in Denbigh in 2018.
On its website, Ray Education plainly says it aims to use British schools to help expand to other countries as part of Beijing’s notorious Belt and Road Initiative to boost the Party’s globalization efforts.
“In essence, this is nothing less than a Communist takeover of part of Britain’s private education sector,” Brexit leader Nigel Farage told Daily Mail.
Conflicts of interest abound
British universities have also been increasingly scrutinized for dealings with the CCP around development of weapons technologies. The scandal prompted the MI6 intelligence agency to investigate “some of the country’s most prestigious universities” for conflicts of interest and national security violations.
An estimated 200 British academics are also allegedly being investigated for “unwittingly helping the Chinese government build weapons of mass destruction,” according to Aljazeera.
Research from Civitas, a civil society think-tank based in London, found that 15 British universities had dealings with 22 Chinese military-linked universities, other military-linked companies, and weapons suppliers.
George Magnus, an associate researcher at Oxford University’s China Centre, linked the increase in the CCP’s investment in Britain to so-called “Golden Era” policies trail blazed by former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor of the Exquecher, George Osbourne.
Magnus told Breitbart “I think it makes them [Cameron et al.] look chronically naive.”
He added, “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 it was revealed by UK-based investigative journalists the Observer and Bureau of Investigative Journalism that Cameron had reportedly used his connections to secure government approval for a $1 billion (£718 million approx.) UK-China fund. Cameron later became Vice Chairman.