Lord Mayor of London to lead City’s first post-COVID trip to China

The Lord Mayor of London is to lead the first City delegation to China since the Covid pandemic, even as tensions remain in Westminster about Britain’s relations with the world’s second-largest economy.

Sky News has learnt that Nicholas Lyons, the current occupant of the role, and Chris Hayward, the City of London Corporation's policy chairman, will travel to Beijing and other major cities later this month for talks with officials and businesses.

Sources said that discussions would focus on key City strengths such as climate change financing.

The trip - the first of its kind since 2019 - will come amid stuttering trading ties between the UK and China after a period in which the two governments' relationship has cooled considerably.

Beijing's stance on Russia's war against Ukraine and growing concerns that China is preparing to invade Taiwan have fuelled international tensions during the past year.

A City of London Corporation spokesperson said: "The City Corporation engages with all key international markets including China. This visit will be crucial in driving forward our climate action goals and supporting the global economy with the transition to net-zero. As the world's largest producer of carbon emissions any discussion on climate change must include China."

In recent days, Lord Johnson, the investment minister, has been criticised by Conservative MPs over a visit to Hong Kong during which he was due to discuss fintech and other trade-related issues with city officials.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader and long-time China hawk, called Rishi Sunak's decision to send Lord Johnson to the former British colony "shameful".

An annual forum called the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue has failed to take place in recent years, partly because of the pandemic but also owing to frostier relations between the countries.

City executives have expressed hope that it could be reinstated this year, although any prospective arrangements have not been made public.