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Letter to steel minister over ‘China cheerleader’ comments

18th January 2016

The steelworkers’ union leader has written to steel minister Anna Soubry MP to explain why he has accused the government of being a ‘cheerleader for China’.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Minister,

Market Economy Status for China

I listened with interest to the interview you gave on Radio 2 earlier today. In the course of that interview you were informed that Roy Rickhuss had referred to the government as a “cheerleader for China”, and you appeared to take great exception to that comment.

I would like to clarify what I said, which referred specifically to China’s bid for Market Economy Status and was taken out of context by the interviewer. I provide the full quote now for your information: “The dumping of cheap Chinese steel is one of the biggest causes of this crisis, yet the UK government remains a cheerleader for China and their bid for ‘market economy status’, which would decimate what’s left of our steel industry. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

As you will know it is widely understood that the UK government has taken a decision to support China’s bid to receive Market Economy Status from Europe. This would be a complete disaster for our steel industry as it would make it even harder for European producers to gain protection from unfairly traded Chinese imports. Over the past week I have been in dialogue with senior industry figures who have told me that if China does achieve Market Economy Status it will be a catastrophe for our industry and most likely the final nail in the coffin for UK steelmaking.

I hope the above serves to clarify my comment about the government acting as a “cheerleader for China”. However, I would be more than happy to retract my statement if you can assure me that the UK government does not, and will not, support China’s application for Market Economy Status. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the contents of this letter and I look forward to your response confirming the government’s position on the vital issue of Market Economy Status for China.

Yours sincerely,

Roy Rickhuss
General Secretary