Chancellor Osborne's Chinese Chequers

Liberalisation of UK/China Visa regime will be good for trade, tourism and human rights

News has broken this morning of a relaxation on Chinese visitors' requirements for Visas on trips to the UK and therefore Jersey. This is excellent news for trade but it improves prospects for progress on human rights too.

The scheme allows for Chinese visitors to the EU to no longer have to apply for a separate UK visa, if Liberalisation of UK/China Visa regimethey book through a scheme run by nominated travel agents. This will be of great assistance to Chinese tourists who spend on average over £1600 per person, the highest per capita spend of any nationality, but it will crucially improve prospects for business visitors.

The Chancellor was on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning and said:

"Many people think of China as a sweat shop on the Pearl River. Yet it is at the forefront of medicine, computing and technology. It's a very rapidly changing country."

Addressing a group of students he also said:

"What I really want it to be about is strengthening the understanding between our two nations, deepening our friendship, working out where by working together we can improve the lives of all our citizens," he said in a speech to university students in Beijing.

"Yes, of course, we have differences, different political systems, we attach value to different things, and we shouldn't be afraid of pointing out where we disagree.

"But let us not do it in a way that is not respectful of each other and tries to understand each other, and let us try to overcome our differences and work together in peaceful co-operation.

"Because ultimately we want the same thing - a better life for our citizens."

I joined the CityUK fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference recently and put this issue to Greg Clarke the Financial secretary who agreed a solution needed to be found. The issue has been top of mind with CityUK and the City of London corporation and there is no doubt Paris and Frankfurt have won more business due to their more friendly regimes. The changes announced today will level the competitive playing field.

Although they may not acknowledge it, this is good news too for those keen to promote human rights in China. The more visitors we have from China the more likely we will borrow the best from each other's cultures. Progress will be built on contact and the formation of lasting relationships.

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