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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang at the 'the Online Exhibition of Achievements of Chinese Enterprises in the UK': Seize Opportunities to Forge Ahead in China-UK Economic and Trade Relations

Chairman Fang,

Sir Sherard,

Chairman Perry,

Business Leaders,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good afternoon!

As we are about to mark the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, it is a real delight to join you at the release of the Online Exhibition of Achievements of Chinese Enterprises in the UK.

On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to wish this exhibition great success. I would also like to extend our sincere appreciation to the China-Britain Business Council and the 48 Group Club for your strong support for this event.

I feel very happy just like all of you about the huge accomplishments of the Chinese enterprises here. At the same time, seeing all this progress reminds me of the extraordinary historic journey of China-UK economic cooperation and its inspiration for all of us today.

First, the success of the Chinese political system is the fundamental premise for the development of Chinese enterprises in the UK.

For the past 100 years, the Communist Party of China has led the Chinese people in making strenuous exploration and arduous efforts, from revolution to development and reform. It has blazed the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and led the nation to create “two miracles” rarely seen in the world, namely rapid economic growth and sustained social stability.

China is now the world’s second largest economy, largest trading nation in goods and biggest contributor to global growth. It has contributed over 30% annually to world economic growth for many years in a row. China’s rapid economic growth has provided a solid basis for our trade and economic cooperation with foreign countries. In turn, such cooperation has facilitated the sustained growth of our economy.

Since the 18th National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has led the country to deepen reform in all respects and open wider to the world. It has proposed new philosophies, such as win-win cooperation and a community with a shared future for mankind. It is now working to build a new economic development paradigm of “dual circulation” with even greater openness.

Here I would like to highlight the Belt and Road Initiative. BRI was proposed by China but delivers benefits to the whole world. It is not a solo performance by China but a chorus by all participating partners. Its development follows the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and this has won extensive recognition around the world.

Since proposing this initiative in 2013, China has signed 206 documents on BRI cooperation with 140 countries and 32 international organisations. Business cooperation between China and countries along the BRI routes has kept growing. In 2020, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, trade in goods between China and BRI partners totaled 1.35 trillion US dollars, and non-financial FDI from China to partner economies totaled 17.79 billion US dollars.

China and the UK have also carried out cooperation on BRI. Our two countries have signed an agreement on cooperation in third markets, and rolled out practical programmes to jointly provide financing, expertise and services to third markets.

As China opens wider to the world and the BRI development keeps advancing, more and more Chinese companies are bringing their capital and businesses to the UK. Today, the cooperation between Chinese and British companies covers a wide range of areas from financial services and high-tech manufacturing to clean energy and infrastructure. This has not only promoted the growth of Chinese companies but also created huge job opportunities and tax revenue and boosted the development of the relevant industries locally.

Second, the sound and steady development of China-UK relations is an important safeguard for the growth of Chinese companies in the UK.

In the 70 plus years since the founding of New China, the relations between China and the UK have kept making progress despite ups and downs.

The UK was the first major Western country to recognize the People’s Republic in 1950. It joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2015. In all these historic decisions, the UK demonstrated its ability to grasp the trend of times and displayed its pioneering spirit. There is every reason that such spirit should be carried forward.

China has always seen Britain as a partner for cooperation and remained committed to developing a sound and steady relationship. As State Councilor Wang Yi said in his telephone conversation with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last month, "China-UK relations have a deep foundation and strong driving force. China has always attached importance to the international status and role of Britain and is willing to be a partner of a ‘Global Britain’."

It is true that China and the UK are different in history, culture and development stage. And it is not surprising that we have different views on certain issues. The key is to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, enhance mutual understanding through equal-footed dialogues, reduce and manage our differences, and expand our consensus and mutual trust.

China creates opportunities for the UK rather than poses a threat. I believe the British people, who are well-known for their good sense of history and pragmatism, will come to an independent judgment.

It is our hope that both sides will move forward in the same direction, stick firmly to the right path and work together to achieve win-win results. The sound development of our relations will provide a stable and predictable macro environment for the cooperation between the enterprises of our two countries.

Third, win-win cooperation is the basis for the development of Chinese enterprises in the UK.

China and the UK have highly complementary economies and our cooperation enjoy enormous potential. Cooperation is a two-way street and its benefits should be shared. Companies may have many secrets to the success of their cooperation. But the most important one is always seeking win-win results.

Now, more than 800 Chinese companies have invested and set up businesses in the UK. They have projects in every corner of the country. They are expanding their investment from traditional sectors such as financial services, trade and energy to new ones, including high-end manufacturing, infrastructure, cultural and creative industries, and information technology.

In recent years, eight Chinese banks opened branches in the UK. London is now the world’s largest offshore RMB trading centre and second largest offshore RMB clearing centre, with the total clearing volume exceeding 55 trillion RMB yuan. Four Chinese firms are listed in London through the Shanghai-London Stock Connect, which enabled the first-ever connection between the Chinese capital market and a foreign one.

It is exactly because the business communities of both our countries follow the principle of mutual benefit that their cooperation has yielded fruitful outcomes.

China-UK trade and economic cooperation could not have been so successful without the contribution of business leaders from both countries. Sixty-eight years ago, visionary people from the British business community, including Jack Perry, broke through the blockade and started trading with China. They are hailed as the “icebreakers”.

CBBC was established 67 years ago. It has grown with China-UK relations and played an important role in building closer business ties between our two countries.

CCCUK, a younger organisation of only 20 years old, has been growing very fast. With nearly 300 members, it has provided support to Chinese enterprises in achieving steady development in the UK.

Right now, China-UK relations are encountering headwinds and have come to a critical juncture. It is important that the business communities of our two countries work together to tackle the current difficulties. I hope you will build on the progress you have made, continue to strive forward and open up new prospects for China-UK economic cooperation and trade.

When Mr. Jack Perry embarked on the “icebreaking trip”, China only accounted for less than 1% of world trade as we explored ways to trade with foreign countries in very difficult international circumstances. Today, after more than half a century, the international environment has gone through profound change and so have China and the UK. But the “icebreaking” spirit is still needed, and we should give it a new dimension that reflects our times: We must break the “ice of outdated mindset” and establish sound interactions featuring mutual trust and mutual learning; we must break the “ice of protectionism” and build an open and inclusive world economy.

At the moment, China is implementing the new development philosophy, fostering a new development paradigm, and embarking on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in a comprehensive way. The UK has entered a new stage of building a “Global Britain”. Our two countries face new opportunities for cooperation. The business communities of both countries should deepen existing cooperation in trade in goods, traditional financing, manufacturing, nuclear energy and infrastructure. At the same time, you should explore new industries, new business models and new forms of partnership, and expand cooperation in green finance, Fintech, new energy automobile and creative industry. This will inject new vitality into China-UK cooperation.

Every Chinese enterprise and Chinese citizen overseas is a representative of China and shoulders the responsibilities to connect China with foreign countries and enhance mutual understanding. It is important that Chinese enterprises in the UK continue to abide by local laws and regulations, undertake corporate social responsibilities and build a positive image of China.

We also hope that the UK side will take concrete measures to deliver its vision of building a free, open and global Britain. In particular, we hope the UK side will eliminate political obstacles and obstacles imposed by any third party that stand in the way of the cooperation between the companies of our two countries, so that the Chinese enterprises here will find themselves in a fair and friendly environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China is taking big strides towards building a modern socialist country. We are fully confident that under the strong leadership of the CPC, China will surely make even greater economic and social progress and provide even greater positive energy to world peace, stability and prosperity.

As China continues to develop, China-UK business cooperation will become a much richer “gold mine”. It is my hope that the business communities of our two countries will work together to bring out the full potential of this “gold mine” and deliver more tangible benefits to our peoples.

In conclusion, I wish the Online Exhibition of Achievements of Chinese Enterprises in the UK great success.

* * *

On June 28, Ambassador Zheng Zeguang attended 'the Online Exhibition of Achievements of Chinese Enterprises in the UK' organized by the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK) and delivered a keynote speech. Also speaking at the event were Mr. Fang Wenjian, Chairman of the CCCUK, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chairman of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), and Mr. Stephen Perry, Chairman of the 48 Group Club. More than 200 representatives from the Chinese and British business communities attended via zoom conference and nearly 25,000 people watched the live stream of the event on Twitter or Facebook.

The participants spoke highly of the achievements of the Communist Party of China in the past 100 years, warmly congratulated the CCCUK on its 20th anniversary, and fully reaffirmed the positive role of the CCCUK in leading the Chinese enterprises in the UK in promoting economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. They also expressed the desire and willingness to carry forward the “icebreaking” spirit, strengthen confidence, pull together and contribute further to the win-win development of UK-China economic and trade relations.

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