China has offered to invest in Britain’s railways for the first time by financing and building links to a new Birmingham station on the high-speed HS2 network, highlighting Beijing’s growing interest in investing in UK infrastructure.
The approach by China Railway Group came within weeks of David Cameron’s trip to China, when Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, offered to invest directly in the government’s ￡50bn high-speed rail line.
Premier Li’s offer took Downing Street by surprise and British officials insisted that the main rail line will be funded entirely by the taxpayer. But officials held open the prospect of Chinese companies bidding for the concession to run the line once it was built and said they would welcome direct investment in stations and other ancillary projects around HS2.
Ministers are promoting HS2 as a project that can establish the UK as a world-leader in high-speed rail engineering and so are sensitive to the fact that Beijing’s offers to finance infrastructure in other countries have often been contingent on awarding building contracts to Chinese companies.
In a letter to the leader of Birmingham city council last month, China Railway Group offered to build connections from the proposed HS2 interchange on Birmingham’s eastern outskirts to the airport and cities such as Coventry and Peterborough.
China Railway Group is a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of the state-owned China Railway Engineering Corporation and has been instrumental in leading the modernisation of the country’s domestic rail network.
An official in China Railway Group’s international department confirmed the company’s interest in the project, which has been valued at ￡240m by its other backers.
Mr Cameron has welcomed Chinese investment into UK infrastructure, including Heathrow airport, a nuclear power station in western England and Manchester airport. Britain has jumped from 21st in the list of China’s inward investment destinations in 2010 to fourth.
中国中铁股份有限公司(China Railway Group)发出这一提议的几周前，英国首相戴维?卡梅伦(David Cameron)对中国展开访问，当时中国总理李克强提议对英国政府策划的500亿英镑高铁项目进行直接投资。
中国中铁是国有的中国铁路工程总公司(China Railway Engineering Corporation)在香港上市的子公司，在中国国内铁路网的现代化建设中一直扮演主力角色。