Chinese investors ‘have spent £134 BILLION on UK assets including infrastructure, private schools, and FTSE 100 firms’
Chinese investors have acquired stakes in UK’s key infrastructure firms worth over £134billion says a Sunday Times report. A previous report by the Mail on Sunday, says that Chinese firms have also invested heavily in prestigious private schools – including Thetford Grammar School and Bournemouth Collegiate College – to the tune of £10billion.
Almost half of the purchases uncovered in The Sunday Times investigation with data provider Argus Vicker are said to have taken place in the last two years and because of the difficulty in tracing some investments, the total investment figure could be far higher than the £134billion calculated.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative Party leader said the research showed that successive UK governments had been ‘asleep on the watch’. And ‘this evidence today shows how dangerously we are sailing towards Chinese control of key aspects of our business.’
However, experts anticipate a ‘feeding frenzy’ as firms, including some run by high-ranking members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, are expanding their influence over Britain’s education system.
Already, seventeen schools are owned by Chinese companies, but that number is set to rocket. Basically, hundreds of independent schools left in dire financial straits by the coronavirus pandemic are being targeted by Chinese investors. Last year, Chinese firms bought three schools, including Abbots Bromley School near Lichfield, Staffordshire, which had been forced to close its doors in 2019.
List of Schools owned by China-backed firms.
Abbots Bromley School, Staffordshire
Bournemouth Collegiate School
St Michael’s School in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire
Bosworth Independent College in Northampton
Bedstone College in Shropshire
Ipswich High School
Kingsley School in Bideford, Devon,
Heathfield Knoll School
Thetford Grammar School in Norfolk
Wisbech Grammar in Cambridgeshire
Riddlesworth Hall Preparatory School in Norfolk
Adcote School for Girls near Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Myddelton College in Denbigh, Wales
CATS Colleges – Campuses are in London, Cambridge and Canterbury
Chase Grammar School
Abbotsholme School, Derbyshire
St Bees School, Cumbria
A key player in the market is Bright Scholar, which bought a number of schools and colleges in 2018 and 2019, including Bournemouth Collegiate School, St Michael’s School in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire – where Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and singer Cerys Matthews were once pupils – and Bosworth Independent College in Northampton.
Bright Scholar is owned by Yang Huiyan, who is reportedly worth £20 billion, making her Asia’s richest woman, and was founded by her father Yang Guoqiang, a member of the Communist Party’s highest-ranking advisory council.
Ms. Yang, 39, is the boss of Country Garden Group, Bright Scholar’s parent company. Two independent schools – Bedstone College in Shropshire and Ipswich High School – are owned by a fund backed by the Chinese Wanda Group.
The Wanda Group, which invests in technology, real estate, hotels, and the media, bought the schools in 2017 through City of London-based asset manager London & Oxford Group. It was founded by Wang Jianlin, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier who is worth an estimated £10 billion and is a member of China’s senior Communist Party advisory council.
Two more schools – Kingsley School in Bideford, Devon, and Heathfield Knoll School in Worcestershire – are owned by China First Capital Group, which has senior Communist Party members on its board.
Others bought by Chinese firms include Thetford Grammar School in Norfolk, which was attended by Thomas Paine, Wisbech Grammar in Cambridgeshire, and Riddlesworth Hall Preparatory School in Norfolk, where Princess Diana was taught. Riddlesworth was bought by the Confucius International Education Group in 2015 and its website lauds its links with the late Princess.
Another company, Ray Education Group, bought Adcote School for Girls near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and Myddelton College in Denbigh, Wales, in 2018. Ray Education says it is ‘relying on British brand schools to target expansion in ‘Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, South Africa, Nigeria, and other countries.
Last year the Mail on Sunday revealed that loyal members of the Chinese Communist Party were working in British consulates, universities, and for some of the UK’s leading companies.
An extraordinary leaked database of 1.95 million registered party members revealed how Beijing’s influence stretches into almost every corner of British life, including defence firms, banks, and pharmaceutical giants. Among them is a senior official at the British Consulate in Shanghai. Its headquarters is also home to intelligence officers from the UK security services.
While there is no evidence that anyone on the party membership list has spied for China – and many sign up simply to boost their career prospects – experts say it defies credulity that some are not involved in espionage. Responding to the findings, an alliance of 30 MPs last night said they would be tabling an urgent question about the issue in the Commons.
Last month it was revealed the UK is to slash its aid spending to China by 95 per cent and spend what is left on pro-democracy activities.
The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said that the official development assistance (ODA) fund was being reduced from £18million to just £900,000.
The remaining cash will be used to ‘fund programmes on open societies and human rights’, he said in a written statement to Parliament