China to Borrow From U.K. Banks

LONDON - British banks have agreed to lend China $170 million, in one of the biggest foreign loans the regime has obtained since crushing prodemocracy demonstrations in 1989.

A spoksman for Midland Bank PLC, lead bank for the financing, said Friday that the 20-year loan will help finance the construction of a chemical complex in northwest China.

British lenders are protected by Britain's Export Credits Guarantee Department, the Midland spokesman said.

Reasonable Interest

He declined to disclose the interest rate, but bankers said it was in the region of 5%.

The ethylene plant is the biggest project covered by a $400 million package offered by the British govermnet to China but frozen when sanctions were imposed after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Other participating banks are Barclays Bank PLC, National Westminster Bank PLC, Kleinwort BEnson Group, Schroder Wagg, Morgan Grenfell, Chartered Westdeutsche Group, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp.

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