Southern Europe may have been the bazaar for Chinese investors seeking cheap deals in the west since the start of the debt crisis, but the UK has emerged as the continent’s prime destination for Chinese cash.

Chinese invested twice as much into the UK since the start of 2012 as they did over the past seven years – and, by some estimates, even more than the total from the previous three decades.

Chinese companies own stakes in Heathrow and Manchester airports, cereal maker Weetabix, and in North Sea oil. They are also likely to invest in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, which is expected to provide 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity once it is completed in 2023.

The growth of Chinese investment into the UK “is not on the same scale as southern Europe but here it’s more business as usual than a fire sale,” says Nat
Wei, a British peer of Chinese heritage. The recent increase was nonetheless enough for the UK to overtake France in 2012 to become the top European destination for Chinese foreign direct investment, according to UK Treasury figures and data compiled by the Heritage Foundation.

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