United Kingdom

Minister is accused of 'kowtowing' to China after 'praising President Xi'

MPs have accused a Treasury Minister of kowtowing to China after he attended a black-tie dinner hosted by a controversial lobbying group and appeared to praise President Xi Jinping’s policies.

The 48 Group Club has been accused of ‘grooming’ the British elite to lobby for Beijing, prompting calls from MPs for tighter laws on lobbying.

John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, used the dinner to say UK and China are natural partners and should co-operate in President Xi’s controversial ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.

A record of the 48 Group dinner uncovered by The Mail on Sunday shows Mr Glen saying Britain and China can work together in ‘clean technology and green finance’.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen speaks during the 48 Group Club's Chinese New Year dinner event at the Dorchester this year 

The dinner is the latest example of Government efforts to woo China over green energy. Boris Johnson set out plans for a ‘green revolution’ during the Tory Party conference.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We don’t want any more dependency on China, we want less. How can he [Glen] go and say this in the midst of the fact China has broken the Sino-British treaty on Hong Kong? Why is the Treasury still locked into the cultural cringe of aligning itself with an organisation like the 48 Group?’

Sir Iain added that Mr Glen’s speech ‘would have been written for him – that shows you exactly where the Treasury are. They are pro, pro, pro China. They are still in Project Kowtow’.

Mr Glen was pictured at the event alongside Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador, and Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group.

Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds veterans at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of China's entry into the Korean War yesterday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China

Mr Perry recently described President Xi as ‘a beacon of hope in a dark moment of the planet’.

A Chinese report of the event said Mr Glen ‘said that Britain and China are “natural partners” and that the two sides have broad prospects for co-operation in financial services and the “Belt and Road”. According to Glen, there are many opportunities for investment in technological innovation in the United Kingdom…’

The 48 Group Club is a pro-Beijing body whose patrons and fellows include Labour and Tory grandees such as Peter Mandelson, Jack Straw and Michael Heseltine.

Following reports about the group’s activity over the summer, Tory MP Bob Seely said: ‘There is a real need for foreign lobbying laws in this country. Our lobbying laws are very weak compared to other countries.’

The 48 Group Club was approached for comment. Mr Perry has previously said it does not have a formal relationship with any other organisation, ‘inside or outside China’.

A Treasury spokesman said: ‘As we have left the EU… we must work with partners across the world to boost jobs, businesses and prosperity. The government-backed Belt and Road initiative offers significant commercial opportunities to the UK.’

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