A $1.24 billion-valued agreement between a British city and a Chinese manufacturing firm has been canceled after three years of inaction. The broken deal occurs amid chilly diplomatic relations between London and Beijing.
In recent weeks, London officials have expressed support for Hongkongers who have flooded the streets in protest of a controversial extradition bill that they consider an affront to the city’s autonomy—drawing Beijing’s ire.
Hong Kong was handed over from British to Chinese rule in 1997. The Chinese regime had promised it would preserve freedoms in Hong Kong that are not afforded in the mainland.
But the now-suspended bill, which proposed that any country, including mainland China, would be able to seek extradition of an individual to be tried in courts controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, sparked fears that Hong Kong’s rule of law would be infringed upon.
Following mass protests in Hong Kong, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and other UK politicians urged Chinese authorities to respect human rights and freedom in Hong Kong. Beijing responded with tough words.
“The UK government has chosen to stand on the wrong side. It has made inappropriate remarks not only to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong, but also to back up the violent lawbreakers [protesters],” said Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK, at a July 3 press conference.
On July 12, Chinese authorities announced that four British nationals were arrested as part of a drug raid in eastern China’s Xuzhou City, prompting concerns of hostage diplomacy.
An Iconic Project
Then, in July 2016, the third-largest district by population and notable industrial city Sheffield signed a 1 billion British pound ($1.24 billion) cooperation agreement with the Chinese firm Sichuan Guodong Construction Group. BBC dubbed it “an iconic project” of…