Wang Hongzhang, the President of the state-owned China Construction Bank (CCB), named as the first Chinese bank designated for offshore renminbi trading in London, gave a helping hand to the British euroskeptics. Speaking during the visit to the UK of China’s Prime Minister, Mr Hongzhang said that UK's membership in the European Union or the lack thereof will have no influence on trade and investment.
Basically, one of the most influential Chinese investors destroyed the most powerful argument for staying in the European Union. The critics of the euroskeptics often believe that after leaving the European Union, the country will be economically suffocated by lack of foreign investment. Wang Hongzhang pointed out an obvious shortcoming of such arguments. "It is the age of globalization," he said.
Rory Broomfield, director of Better Off Out, a euroskeptic think-tank, believes that the message sent by the Chinese banker is clear:
"Mr Hongzhang’s comment reinforce what a number of academics and economists have been saying for years. Investment into the UK economy is dependent on other factors such as its infrastructure, its rule of law and its human capital – not on EU membership. This has been widely recognized amongst the business community and I now hope that others will get the message that EU membership does not define whether Britain can attract investment from the wider world."
However, not everyone is convinced that the Britain can remain attractive for investors without a valid membership card of the European Union. Alisdair McIntosh, director of Business for New Europe, told City AM that exiting the EU will hurt the British economy:
"The UK is the third-largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world. Investors come partly because we are in the EU; if we left, investment would drop. EU membership is worth up to £80bn a year to the UK, according to the Confederation of British Industry, and it supports huge numbers of jobs across the country. An exit would damage our whole economy."
Judging by the UKIP's stunning success in the recent European parliamentary elections, the British public is willing to bet that the top Chinese banker is right and that Britain shouldn't have to obey the restrictive rules set by Bruxelles. If the current euroskeptic trend continues, we may even witness a successful British exit from the European Union, despite the efforts of the pro-European politicians and think-tanks.