British Chancellor George Osborne on Thursday urged Chinese firms to take part as he opened the bidding for seven contracts worth a combined £11.8 billion ($18 billion) to build a high-speed railway.
Osborne said in the Chinese city of Chengdu that the line through northern England, known as HS2, was a key part of the British government’s plans for “supporting long-term economic growth” in the region.
“That’s why I’m here in China today, opening the bidding process for construction contracts worth £11.8 billion, which will propel HS2 forward,” he said.
“We are truly entering a golden era of cooperation between our two countries, and it’s crucial that businesses and communities from across the UK feel the full benefit of forging closer economic links with China,” Osborne said.
Osborne, whose Conservative government has faced criticism for making Britain over reliant on China, encouraged Chinese investors to back the HS2 line and other projects in northern England valued at a total of £24 billion.
“Today is about making sure that the north is at the heart of our plans to grow investment into the country, and we will be able to showcase compelling projects to ambitious Chinese investors,” said Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Jim O’Neill, who accompanied Osborne in China.
“But it is also about making sure we are cooperating and learning from China’s urbanization experience, including the progress China has made in supporting and coordinating regional development and promoting the development of city clusters,” O’Neill stated.