China-UK News March 2018

Concern as Xi Jinping aims to extend presidency beyond ten years

The Chinese government this month proposed to remove limits on the maximum term served by a president, which currently stands at ten years.

The Chinese Communist Party, the sole governing party in China, has previously capped all presidencies at ten years, or two five-year terms, as to prevent individual leaders harnessing too much power and influence, as witnessed with Mao Zedong in the 20th century. The regulation was implemented by Deng Xiaoping during the 90s.

The move has alarmed many, both in China and internationally, with concerns that Xi Jinping is aiming to consolidate power and that China could be moving towards a dictatorship. It is believed that Xi is already the most powerful leader in China since Mao Zedong.

One spokesman for the Chinese Communist Party claimed the move was important as China needed “stable, strong and consistent leadership” from 2020 to 2035.

Number of Chinese visitors to UK doubled in 2017 – Ctrip

One of China’s largest travel agencies has announced that its bookings to the UK doubled in 2017.

Ctrip claim 60,000 people booked a trip to the UK in 2017, with 58% travelling independently and 42% in groups. Castles, churches and opera houses were visited heavily according to the report. The average spend per visitor was £1144.

Although these are just the statistics from one travel platform, it is a good indicator to overall numbers, and mean the UK was one of the fastest growing destinations last year for the Chinese.

Ctrip claim the sharp depreciation of the pound following the Brexit vote and an increase in the number of direct flights both contributed to the figures. However, it remains to be seen if the growth in these figures will continue long-term, or if they will plateaux if the pound recovers its previous strength.

London, Manchester and Birmingham join forces to attract more Chinese tourists

The UK’s three largest cities have announced a joint-venture in the hope of attracting more Chinese tourists to travel right across the UK.

The project, know as “Experience England”, aims to facilitate travel between the three cities and beyond, and is funded by a £1.2 million Visit England grant. Research shows that less than a third of visitors who stay in London go on to stay in other UK locations, something the project is hoping to change.

This is in addition to previous government initiatives to encourage visitors to travel outside of London. Group visitors from China are able to have their visa costs refunded providing they spend a certain amount of nights outside of London during their trip.

Meanwhile…

There was anger in China this month, as a thumb from one of the country’s beloved Terracotta Warriors was stolen whilst on tour in the US.

The statue, worth £3.2 million, was one of only ten on loan to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia when a visitor to the museum, Michael Rohana, entered the exhibition whilst it was closed.

After taking a selfie with the statue, he then broke off a thumb from the statue before putting it in his pocket and leaving the museum

The FBI later tracked down Mr Rohana, who admitted keeping the thumb in a desk drawer in his house.

Discovered in 1974, the Terracotta Army is one of China’s most valuable and beloved archeological finds, built by Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BCE. Representatives from China have asked the culprit to be “severely punished”.

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