On 15 June, Minister Chen Wen attended the online Plenary of China-UK Business Week hosted by the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and delivered a speech. CBBC Chief Executive Matthew Rous presided over the event, where Sir Sherard, Chair of CBBC, Gordon Orr, Vice Chairman of CBBC, Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club, and other participants exchanged views on a wide range of topics, including opportunities in China post-Brexit and China-UK business bonds. Around 250 people attended the event online, including CBBC members and representatives of business communities of the two countries.
Minister Chen said in her speech that China has now brought Covid-19 basically under control and made important progress in economic recovery and social development. In the UK, lockdown measures are being eased and economic activities are getting back on track gradually. “This online event hosted by CBBC focuses on opportunities in China and building business bonds between China and the UK for the future. Discussions on these topics are important for enhancing China-UK exchanges and cooperation, and enabling our two countries to achieve economic recovery and common development after the pandemic” said Chen. She then shared her views on the opportunities that China has to offer: the enormous market as China’s economy recovers and consumer demand rebounds, the favorable policy as China will deepen reform and pursue high-quality growth, and the rapid growth momentum as China will open its market wider and stay committed to an open world economy.
Chen noted that China and the UK should make efforts in three respects to build business bonds in the future. First, China and the UK should match their comparative strengths. China’s strengths in capital, market and manufacturing capability match well with the UK’s strengths in R&D, technology and experience. And China and the UK face promising prospects for cooperation in areas of artificial intelligence, industrial internet and big data centers.
Second, China and the UK should seize the opportunities of emerging economic sectors. The two countries are sharing experience and information and deepening cooperation on testing methods, R&D of vaccine and medicines and clinical treatment. “Going forward, China and the UK could enhance cooperation in these areas with African countries under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. This will benefit the peoples of both our two countries and beyond,” said Chen.
Third, China and the UK should work together to promote open cooperation. Chen hoped that the British business community would have a clear picture of the major trend of development, resist noises and disruptions, and take concrete steps to oppose unilateralism and protectionism, safeguard free trade and the multilateral trading system, ensure safe and stable supply and industrial chains, and uphold an open world economy. By doing so, a favorable environment and conditions for closer and win-win business cooperation between the two countries could be fostered.
Sir Sherard said, the UK-China business relationship is one of UK’s most important foreign relations in the post-Brexit era. The bilateral trade and investment between the two countries have grown rapidly, and exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, tourism and other fields have continued to deepen. There is also huge potential between the two sides in finance, technology and manufacturing. Recently, some people are preaching economic decoupling or making noises on issues such as South China Sea and Xinjiang, none of which is beneficial to the bilateral cooperation. The business communities of the UK and China should join hands to foster a favorable condition for economic and trade cooperation and development, and maintain a good impetus of their bilateral collaboration. He hoped that the annual meeting between China-UK Prime Ministers and the Economic and Financial Dialogue would be restarted at an early date, and the UK-China Joint Economic and Trade Commission and UK-China Financial Services Summit would be held smoothly within this year.
Vice Chairman Orr said, China’s development is currently in an important period with strategic opportunities. The year 2020 is the last year of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, and decisive progress has been made in poverty reduction. The annual “Two Sessions” have set protecting employment and people’s basic living needs as key tasks, so as to realize a coordinated development of economic, social and ecological systems. China is now resuming its social and economic activities in an orderly manner. The demand in the consumer markets, such as food delivery and health care, has basically recovered to the pre-pandemic level, and emerging sectors, such as digital economy, smart city and smart health, are growing against recession. The British companies should stay confident and future-oriented to swiftly grasp the opportunities of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, the reform of the market-based allocation of factors, high-quality opening-up, the construction of Hainan Free Trade Port, the speedy development of new infrastructure projects, and the third China International Import Expo, to fully participate in and promote the mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields between the two countries.
Chair Perry said, China’ remarkable success in containing COVID-19 has once again proved the governance capability of the CPC and the Chinese Government. At present, the Chinese people are making their efforts to achieve the Two Centenary Goals, and China is actively deploying its national strategies, such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta Region, the coordinated development of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region and Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle. In the future, China will become not only the largest world economy, but also the world’s largest importer. Meanwhile, the Belt and Road Initiative pays higher attention to the urbanization of the countries under the frame, which will provide important opportunities for the UK and China to strengthen the third-party market cooperation.
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The UK-China Business Week 2020 online programme was held from 15th to 19th June. The theme on the first day was UK and China: building business bonds for the future.