Following the United Kingdom’s shock decision to leave the European Union after yesterday’s referendum, hopes by Leave supporters for the swift establishment of new trade relations with China might prove to be nothing more than hot air.
As campaigning took place over the past few months, those looking to see the UK part ways with the EU were frequently heard promising that a Britain not chained to Brussels would be free to negotiate more favorable trade deals with growing economies such as India and China. But the Chinese appear to have other plans.
China Daily reports an estimate doing the rounds is that it will require 500 British negotiators and 10 years before any such deal could materialize, suggesting that the economic case for a Leave vote was never as strong as its advocates had claimed.
Chinese investors are also said to be concerned for their interests in the UK, as many chose to base their European operations in Britain to take advantage of the friendlier business climate and access to the 28-nation free market.
The decision to leave has proven a huge shock for the Hong Kong stock exchange, with the Hang Seng tumbling 4.4 percent by midday. The Shanghai Composite, which is far less exposed to international markets, is also down by 1.1 percent.
China has since called for a calm response to the UK’s Brexit vote, saying that a “stable and united European Union was in the interest of all parties.”
Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, added that China respected the choice of the British people. “A prosperous Europe is in the interests of all parties and China is willing to keep co-operating with Britain and is fully confident in China-EU ties,” she said.
Despite proclaiming a “golden era” of relations between Britain and China, relations between the two countries were recently tested after none other than Queen Elizabeth was caught commenting on the rude behavior of Chinese diplomats.
The Global Times issued a stern response, telling the “barbarians” of the British media to learn some civility from 5,000 years of Chinese history.