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Universities on biggest British trade mission to China

Universities and science minister David Willetts is among the 120-strong trade delegation to China, writes Alison Goddard.

Prime minister David Cameron has called for a free-trade deal to be struck between the European Union and China, while on his first visit to Beijing for the past three years. Hundreds of British businessmen and businesswomen, particularly from small- and medium-sized enterprises, have accompanied him, reports the BBC. HoweverThe Financial Times, which normally focuses on the money, instead highlights (£) political concerns over human rights in China.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, is accompanying the prime minister. Although Mr Cameron has concentrated his speeches and editorials in China on the role of free trade, Mr Willetts is simultaneously promoting the role of higher education in stimulating sustainable economic growth and fostering good relationships. It is a line of argument championed also by Labour: before he was appointed as shadow universities minister, Liam Byrne wrote an excellent book on the role that trade with China could play in promoting economic growth in the UK that identified a central part for universities (link is to Amazon, the book is also available from other sellers).

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