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Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Celebration the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China & Second China-UK Economic and Trade Forum:Build on Past Achievements and Join Hands to Enhance China-UK Win-Win Cooperation

Guildhall, City of London, 26 June 2019

Minister Graham Stuart,

Madam Gao Yan,

Chairman Fang Wenjian,

Chairman Stephen Perry,

Sir Douglas Flint,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good afternoon!

It is a real delight to join you for the second China-UK Economic and Trade Forum hosted by China Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

This Forum has always been an important platform for business leaders from both countries to exchange ideas, assess needs, and discuss cooperation and development.

Today’s Forum is more than that. It is part of this year’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. So allow me to say what a great pleasure it is to join you to mark this important anniversary.

This year also marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of China-UK diplomatic relationship at the level of chargé d’affaires. So, it is a significant time for us to reflect on past achievements and look into the future.

First, what have we learned from China-UK business cooperation over the past years?

In my view, there are four main lessons. The first lesson is that we should always respect each other and keep the larger picture in mind.

In the past 65 years, thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, China-UK relationship has forged ahead despite winds and rains. Now this relationship has become increasingly strategic, pragmatic, global and inclusive.

China and the UK differ in social system and cultural tradition. It is natural that we do not always see eye to eye. What is important is that we keep the larger picture in mind and see beyond our differences. We should take concrete steps to accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, and handle our differences properly.

China and the UK have come this far in developing our relationship because we are always able to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, treat each other as equals and seek common ground despite differences. That is why we have been able to keep our relationship on the right track. That is also why our business cooperation has been making steady progress and will have a broad prospect.

The second lesson is that we should leverage our comparative strengths and match our strategies.

The UK is a world leader in financial services. It also has rich experience and unique advantages in design, engineering and legal services.

After decades of development, China is now the world’s largest manufacturer and largest trading country. Its increasingly open market and friendly business environment will create mutually-beneficial opportunities for global partners including the UK.

In recent years, China and the UK have increased dialogue on strategies and coordination on policies. There is an effective match between China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the 13th Five-Year Plan, Made in China 2025 and the UK’s Modern Industrial Strategy, UK Industry 2050 and “global Britain” strategy. This has provided a sound institutional environment and strong policy guarantee for Chinese and British companies to deepen cooperation.

I am confident that our two countries will achieve common progress by further tapping the potential of cooperation and leveraging our technological, industrial and institutional strengths.

The third lesson is that we should stay open and inclusive, and engage in win-win cooperation

The past 70 years since the founding of New China, especially the more than 4 decades of reform and opening up, have taught us an important lesson, that is, openness is the only road to progress and isolation leads backwardness.

Any problem that we encounter in development can only be solved through open cooperation. “Putting one’s own country first” and “closing the door to the world” not only goes against the trend of the times. They also result in missed opportunities.

The UK has always upheld openness, inclusiveness, free trade and cooperation. I hope and believe that the UK can resist external pressure and continue to provide a just, fair and transparent business environment for Chinese companies.

China and the UK are both major countries of global influence. We both uphold free trade and open cooperation. And we are both committed to robust, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth of world economy.

Amid rising protectionism and unilateralism, it is all the more important that China and the UK join hands to send out a loud message about our opposition to protectionism and support for open cooperation. This will be our contribution to building an open world economy.

The fourth lesson is that we should strengthen the bond between our people and cement public support for China-UK relations.

The world has changed tremendously in the past 65 years, but the friendship between the Chinese and British people has remained strong as ever.

China-UK cultural and people-to-people exchanges have produced numerous highlights: There are more flights linking our two countries. There are more sister relations linking our cities. There is closer cooperation on education. And all these have delivered tangible benefits to our people.

The responsibility of building a closer bond between our people and cementing public support for our relations lies with not only the governments. The responsibility also lies with you, the business leaders of our two countries.

Therefore, it is my hope that members of Chinese and British business communities will join hands to enhance understanding and mutual trust between our two countries and make your contribution to building a closer bond between our people.

Now, let’s look into the future of China-UK business cooperation. I think there are three major opportunities.

The first opportunity is the fourth industrial revolution.

The new technologies in this revolution, including 5G+the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, big data and new materials, are leading a new round of economic globalization featuring wide application of mobile internet, shorter travel time and constant progress in hi-tech.

Against this backdrop, China is pursuing innovation-driven development, deepening supply-side structural reform and promoting integration of the internet, big data and AI into the real economy. The goal is to build a country strong in innovation.

The UK is strong in technology. Science and innovation have always been given great importance and are placed at the centre of UK’s long-term development strategy.

It is my hope that our two countries could join hands to take the lead in digital, cyber and smart technology application so as to upgrade our business cooperation from trade in capital and product to mutual learning of advanced technology. This will provide more impetus for the win-win cooperation between our two countries.

The second opportunity lies in China’s new round of higher-quality opening up.

President Xi Jinping announced at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that China will take a series of important reform and opening up measures and make stronger institutional and structural moves to boost higher-quality opening up.

Higher-quality opening up means that China will increase market access for foreign capital in wider areas. On top of the existing management model known as pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list, China will continue to shorten the list by a large margin to allow all dimensional access to modern services, manufacturing and agricultural sectors and approve foreign-controlled or wholly foreign-owned companies in more areas. China will also strictly enforce the Foreign Investment Law and speed up the making of supporting regulations.

Higher-quality opening up also means that China will

  • enhance international cooperation on IPR protection,
  • improve IPR-related legal system,
  • safeguard the lawful rights and interests of foreign IP owners,
  • prohibit forced technology transfer,
  • step up protection of commercial secrets,
  • and crack down on IPR infringement in accordance with law.

Higher-quality opening up also means massive increase of import of goods and services.

China is not only the “factory of the world”. It is also a “market of the world”. With the world’s largest and fastest-growing middle-income population, China is a massive consumer market that promises enormous growth potential.

Going forward, China will cut tariffs further, remove non-tariff barriers and open its market wider to high-quality products and services from the world. This will create more opportunities for companies from all countries, including the UK.

This coming November, China will host the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai. We hope to see more British companies at the Expo.

The third opportunity is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In the past six years, thanks to the efforts of all the parties, BRI has made smooth progress.

  • The basic framework of connectivity has been set up, consisting of six economic corridors, six routes, and ports in many countries.
  • A large number of projects have been implemented.
  • More than 160 countries and international organisations have signed agreements with China on BRI cooperation.

From the Eurasia Continent to Africa, from the Americas to Oceania, BRI is regarded as

  • a new space for world economic growth,
  • a new platform for international trade and investment,
  • a new endeavour to improve global economic governance,
  • and new contribution to better life for people of all countries.

It has become a road to opportunities and a road to prosperity for all countries in the world. China-UK cooperation on BRI promises enormous potential and broad prospects.

Last April, Chancellor Hammond attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation as the special representative of Prime Minister May. He proposed to combine the best of British project design and legal, technical and financial services expertise with the best of Chinese manufacturing, engineering and construction as our two countries harness the “Golden Era” of our relationship.

Last week, at the 10th EFD, China and the UK signed an MOU on third market cooperation, and agreed to explore financing mechanisms to attract private investment to BRI.

I am confident that high-quality BRI development will create more opportunities for the China-UK “Golden Era” to develop in a wider scope, at a higher level and at greater depth. In specific, it will deepen China-UK cooperation in areas such as international standards-setting, green finance, risk management and third market development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends:

I would like to quote an ancient Chinese poem to describe the promising prospects of China-UK cooperation:

On the river wide at full tide;

A sail with ease hangs in soft breeze.

After 70 years of strenuous efforts since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and after 65 years of China-UK diplomatic relations, we are standing at a new starting point.

I hope the business leaders from both our two countries will always take a strategic approach and long-term perspective in promoting China-UK business cooperation. I hope you will seize the opportunities and work hand in hand for win-win results.

By doing so, you will contribute more “golden fruits” for the China-UK “Golden Era”!

Thank you!

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