Bank of England governor Mark Carney has pulled out of a dinner in the Square Mile designed to foster relations between London and China.
The City of London Corporation is holding the event at Guildhall on 3 September. It will be attended by China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, the Corporation’s policy chief Catherine McGuinness and lord mayor Peter Estlin.
Some City councillors are unhappy at the timing of the event, as police in Hong Kong continue to clash with pro-democracy protesters. The protests were originally sparked by a proposed bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
Councillor Richard Crossan said: “The City must use this event to remind China of its responsibilities on human rights, democracy and free speech in Hong Kong. As the situation in Hong Kong develops, the City must also remember that it is not just a financial services lobbying group. It has moral responsibilities, whether it wants them or not.”
Another councillor told City A.M: “There’s a question of whether we should even hold a knees-up on the date of 70 years of the founding of the communist dictatorship that has cost millions of lives. If the red army rolls into Hong Kong, it would be unthinkable to hold this event.”
Carney was originally due to speak at the event but a source said he had since pulled out, citing a “diary issue”.
The Chinese military has so far stayed out of the conflict, but in the last few days tanks have amassed on Hong Kong’s border. Ambassador Liu also warned earlier this week that Beijing would “not sit on its hands and watch” if the situation became “uncontrollable”.
China has become a central plank of the Corporation’s lobbying since the 2016 EU referendum. The City has placed itself as the “natural western hub” of China’s Belt and Road initiative, which the corporation estimates could add up to £1.8bn annually to UK GDP.
“The Corporation is very committed to developing that money funnel to make up for what it will lose to Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and Luxembourg,” one councillor said.
A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “We host a number of events throughout the year designed to support the government’s efforts to strengthen relationships with key trading partners around the globe for the benefit of the City, London and the UK.”
The Bank of England did not respond to requests for comment.
Bank of England boss Mark Carney pulls out of UK-China dinner by Alexandra Rogers, City AM, 18 August 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190818222321/https://www.cityam.com/bank-of-england-boss-mark-carney-pulls-out-of-uk-china-dinner/
US vice president Mike Pence will speak at a trade banquet in the City when he visits London next month, City A.M. can reveal.
The black tie dinner, hosted by the City of London Corporation, will take place at Guildhall in the Square Mile on 5 September and will also be attended by the international trade secretary Liz Truss.
Some City councillors are unhappy that Pence was invited to the Square Mile in light of his opinions on a range of social issues.
Councillor Richard Crossan said: “Pence’s views on LGBT rights and immigration are the polar opposite of what the City stands for. I hope the Corporation will think again about giving him a platform and tacitly endorsing his prejudice.”
Another councillor told City A.M. they are not going to attend the event in protest and that other invitees were likely to do the same.
The source said they believed the event was being held as part of the wider government strategy to court the US for a post-Brexit trade deal.
“I know what the justification for this dinner is,” they said. “It is an important trading relationship. But I think it is a very uncomfortable situation dealing with the current US administration.”
City A.M. understands the invitation was first sent to Pence by Liam Fox, who was sacked as trade secretary in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet overhaul.
Another senior figure in the corporation warned that the invitation was likely to attract protests. They added: “Quite why a man whose views on a range of things from women’s rights to LGBT issues – and which are so at odds with this modern and diverse city – is being lauded is beyond me.”
A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: “A range of leading politicians, industry figures and dignitaries are invited to events throughout the year to promote the UK financial services sector and maintain our position as a leading international financial centre.”
US vice president Mike Pence to speak at City trade banquet by Alexandra Rogers, City AM, 14 August 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190814222512/https://www.cityam.com/us-vice-president-mike-pence-to-speak-at-city-trade-banquet/
See also: Taiwan Banned From Neo-Liberal Lord Mayor’s Show As City of London & Chinese Authoritarianism Link Up and Mark Wheatley, Racist Politicians & The City of London Using Pride To Provide Itself With A Fig-Leaf Of Respectability (touching on the visit of far-Right Italian politician Armando Siri to the Guildhall) and Ian Paisley Jr, Aung San Suu Kyi & Paedophile Keith Harding All Awarded Freedom of the City of London and City of London & Hong Kong Have More In Common Than Their Democratic Deficits.