China Would Not Abandon UK After Brexit
Until recently China saw the European Union as a potential foil against the US on the global stage, but as China becomes more assertive in its region it has, perhaps, less overall interest in Europe acting as a single geopolitical entity. It is much more comfortable with the status quo, where the EU continues to struggle to forge an effective common foreign and security policy and where member states are often prepared to pursue their own relations with China. Brexit would benefit such a policy.
On balance, the loss of Britain’s voice in the EU in a Leave vote could be a net loss for China, but it would retain considerable options. In a post-Brexit world, the UK would be trying harder to penetrate Chinese markets and to attract Chinese investment but the argument would be harder to make to a sceptical Chinese audience and less clear on what would be the competitive advantage to them of locating in the UK. Whatever happens, China will continue to have a strong economic stake in the UK, and it is not going to dump that overnight.