In the year While the value of Chinese imports will stand at more than £63 billion by 2021, the UK government has struggled to limit China’s influence in some strategic sectors.
Notably, the previous government banned Huawei-made components from being used in the country’s 5G infrastructure and plans to remove all existing hardware from the country’s 5G networks by 2027.
Read more: The new UK Prime Minister has inherited a worsening crisis, skyrocketing energy bills
Not relying on Chinese hardware is part of a larger focus on securing the sovereignty of the country’s digital economy and recognizing the critical role digital infrastructure plays in national security.
The dispute over the fate of the country’s largest silicon chip maker has recently taken a different turn as the influence of Chinese companies in the UK’s technology sector declines.
Newport Wafer Fab, which manufactures silicon semiconductors at a facility in Wales after being bought by Nekperia last year, may return to original owner Drew Nelson, who recently joined forces with private equity group Palladian Investment Partners to bid for the company.
Newport was bought by Dutch company Nexperia in July last year but has become the subject of a government investigation due to its ties to China by Nexperia’s parent company, Wingtech.
Former Commerce Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced in May that he would “call off” the Newport purchase under the National Security and Investment (NSI) Act.
As the first high-profile implementation of the NSI Act, the Quarantine decision will set the tone for how the new law will be implemented by the government and signal China’s defensive stance on involvement in certain sectors.
The ongoing debate over the role of Chinese investors in the UK’s digital economy has been further complicated by moves from Chinese companies such as Tencent to increase their exposure to global tech businesses, including several investments in UK fintech.
Related: China’s Tencent took a stake in UK challenger bank Monzo
See also: Tencent buys fintech startup in UK business payments
Having long positioned herself as a China hawk and backed by other critics including Kwarteng and James Cleverley in two of the UK’s top political offices, new Prime Minister Liz Truss is likely to pursue closer trade ties with Beijing.
However, with a US trade deal nowhere in sight and ties with the EU threatened to unilaterally scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol, Truss will have few other options.
Less than a month into her tenure as prime minister, Truss will have to prove Britain is still open for business if she is to maintain her reputation as a champion of the free market.
For now, she appears to be consolidating her hopes of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and stepping back from her previous position on the EU and its leadership.
Truss will hold a series of bilateral meetings with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron while in New York this week to meet with President Joe Biden.
Truss’s meeting with Macron will be the first since judges in the Tory leadership race have commented on whether Macron is “friend or foe”. In what could be read as an attempt to shift her stance now as prime minister, Truss told reporters on Monday (September 19) that she wanted a “constructive” relationship with France.
For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the Daily EMEA Newsletter.
We are always on the lookout for opportunities to partner with innovators and disruptors.