Cameron says open to Chinese high speed rail investment

Reuters
Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong directs British Prime Minister David Cameron to the meeting venue in Shanghai
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Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong directs British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) to the meeting venue in Shanghai …

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday Britain was open to Chinese investment in its planned 43-billion-pound high speed rail project linking London and the north of England after Beijing expressed an interest.

In Shanghai on the second day of a trip aimed at deepening ties with the world's second largest economy, Cameron was responding to remarks made by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in a meeting the previous day.

Li said the two countries had achieved "a breakthrough" in talks on the issue, but gave no details.

Cameron told China on Tuesday he would welcome its investment in the project, dubbed HS2.

"We think we have a lot to learn from China in this regard because of the success of your high speed rail," he told students in a question and answer session in Shanghai.

"I said to your president and prime minister yesterday that just as we welcome Chinese investment into nuclear power and other infrastructure, so there will be very open competition to provide the infrastructure for our networks, so we welcome Chinese investment into that as well."

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the Chinese expression of interest in HS2 had taken Britain by surprise but could lead to "a lot".

China's leadership gave Cameron a model of a Chinese bullet train as an official gift.

HS2 has divided opinion in Britain because of its cost and possible impact on the countryside. The first phase of the scheme between London and Birmingham is due to open in 2026 with the extension to Leeds and Manchester due to start from 2033.

China has the longest and most heavily used high speed rail network in the world and is anxious to export its know-how, trains and track.

(Reporting By Andrew Osborn; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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