London Mayor Boris Johnson Denies Collusion With Chinese Developer

Posted: November 17, 2014 in Econ 101, Free Trade

SOURCE: http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1640771/boris-johnson-says-his-office-didnt-coddle-chinese-developer-london

SEE ALSO: Tony Blair Brokered Chinese Oil Deals For PetroSaudi


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Boris Johnson says his office didn’t coddle Chinese developer in London

Boris Johnson rejects allegations that officials linked to his office colluded with company that won lucrative bid to develop Royal Albert Dock

Sunday, 16 November, 2014

London Mayor Boris Johnson has rejected allegations of overly cosy relations between officials and a Chinese company chosen to run a multibillion-pound development project in London – and also denied any knowledge of claims that the firm that won the contract was involved in forced evictions in Beijing.

An investigation by Britain’s Channel 4 News found that Advanced Business Park (ABP), the Beijing-based company selected to develop a 14-hectare complex of offices and shops at the Royal Albert Dock near London City airport, had close links to London & Partners, the official business-promotion company for the capital, which is partly funded by Johnson’s mayoral office.

London & Partners was part of the evaluation process for bids by companies seeking to develop the Royal Albert Dock site, which is intended as a commercial centre aimed at Asian businesses.

In March 2012, during the bidding process, Channel 4 News said, the head of London & Partners, Tongbo Liu, left the agency and joined ABP. At the same time, London & Partners was sharing an office in Beijing with ABP.

Channel 4 News said it had seen bid documents detailing the role of London & Partners in the bid, with the agency asked to assess ABP’s ability to attract Chinese businesses to the new park.

Separately, the report said, the Chinese-born wife of a junior Home Office minister appeared to have played a role in supporting the bid, while at the same time donating considerable sums to the Conservative party.

The programme said Xuelin Bates, a property developer who married the Tory peer Michael Bates in 2012, had held talks in 2008 with the owner of ABP, Xu Weiping, and made at least one trip to China paid for by the Chinese company.

She also formed a company called London China ABP, but dissolved it before it was due to file accounts. According to Channel 4, Xuelin Bates donated more than £160,000 (HK$1.94 million) to the Conservatives from 2010.

Finally, the report alleges that either ABP or its development partners within the local government in China demolished homes in Beijing to make way for redevelopment after residents refused what they said was insufficient compensation.

The programme has obtained video footage of the homes being destroyed.

Asked by Channel 4 News about the Royal Albert Dock deal, Johnson denied it was “fixed” for ABP, saying: “No, not as far as I know. I think there was a proper tender process.” Asked about ABP and London and Partners sharing an office, he reiterated: “As far as I’m aware there was a proper tender process and all due diligence has been done.”

The new business park would bring jobs to the capital, the mayor said, and in the bid process ABP “was obviously in the lead”.

Questioned about the allegations of ABP’s complicity in the forced demolition of homes, Johnson said he had not been told about this, but human rights-related claims were not a factor in the bid.

When asked if he should have found out about the removals, Johnson replied: “Obviously, as far as I can see, that wasn’t relevant to the tendering process.”

Channel 4 News spoke to Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, who said there should be an investigation into the process.

Xu disputed any claims of impropriety, and said his firm went through a “robust and thorough” tender process. Xuelin Bates said any donations she made were purely personal, and that London China ABP had no connection to the Chinese firm.

In a statement, London & Partners confirmed it shared offices for a period with ABP, but said this was purely for logistical reasons. It denied having a role in deciding who won the Royal Albert Dock contract.

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